A Billings man faces a string of criminal charges after leading troopers on a high-speed chase in a stolen pickup through Billings early Saturday morning.
Gregory Nicholas Letz Jr., 24, appeared in Yellowstone County Justice Court on Tuesday on three felony charges: theft and two counts of criminal endangerment. Letz also faces four misdemeanors: fleeing from or eluding a peace officer, driving while the privilege to do so is suspended or revoked, and two counts of criminal mischief.
Justice of the Peace David Carter set bond at $100,000 and required GPS monitoring if Letz is released.
Letz was initially spotted around 7:50 a.m. on Saturday by a Montana Highway Patrol trooper. He was driving east on Interstate 90 in a black Dodge truck at 92 mph in a 65 mph zone.
The trooper activated his lights to pull over Letz, but Letz continued driving, charges state. He exited the interstate, ignored a stop sign and turned north onto 72nd Street West. The vehicle was stolen, dispatchers told the trooper.
Letz reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, charges state, while passing other drivers, running intersections and failing to stop at more stop signs.
Sheriff’s deputies assisted, laying out a spike strip that punctured the two left tires of the vehicle, causing the tires to smoke and break apart. Continuing on First Avenue North, the truck lost its rear left tire, leaving only a rim.
Another spike strip was deployed, this time hitting the front passenger side tire, charges state.
A sergeant with the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office then drove his car into Letz’s, once Letz had slowed to 10 mph. The hit caused Letz’s car to spin into a snow bank, but Letz plowed through the snow and kept driving until the truck would no longer move, charges state. It came to rest near a residence on Island Park Drive, not far from Two Moon Park in the Heights.
Both the stolen pickup and the patrol car sustained damage.
A 21-year-old female passenger was also in the stolen truck and told officers she had asked Letz to pull over and was scared during the pursuit. The passenger was not cited.
The owner of the pickup had reported it stolen to the Billings Police Department two weeks before.
Letz’s driver’s license was suspended at the time of the chase. In August, Letz was charged in Yellowstone County Justice Court with driving with a suspended license, speeding, operating without liability insurance and operating with expired registration.