A man is facing felony drug and theft charges after he allegedly stole a 2014 Dodge Avenger from an auction lot on Wednesday and ran from police when officers found the car.

Prosecutors on Thursday charged 38-year-old Michael Octavious Swerengin with the two felonies and misdemeanor theft, alleging he also stole six car keys from Auto Auction of Montana, 4432 S. Frontage Road, in Billings.

Police officers were dispatched to the business at about 5:10 p.m. Wednesday for a report of a stolen vehicle, charging documents say.

A manager reported that a driver at the business was unloading cars from a trailer when a person, later identified as Swerengin, got into a 2014 Dodge Avenger and drove it out of the storage yard.

Personnel with OnStar, a tracking service installed in the Avenger, notified the auction company that the car had been located.

Additional officers with the police department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and the Montana Highway Patrol responded and found the car near Wal-Mart, 2525 King Ave. W.

An officer saw Swerengin near the car. She reported that she ordered him to stop, but that he ran away. Multiple officers joined the chase and Swerengin was tackled to the ground near the intersection of 24th Street West and King Avenue West, charging documents say.

Court records say Swerengin resisted being handcuffed, and that at he had a pellet gun — which looked like a real pistol — that was later recovered by police.

Swerengin also reportedly had a Leatherman multitool in his hand that he refused to put down. The keys to the stolen car were also found in one of his pockets, court records say.

Police also found a black bag that Swerengin had dropped, records say. Inside were six keys to cars belonging to the auction company.

Officers recovered other items from him, including a small bag of crystalline substance that field tested positive as methamphetamine, according to prosecutors.

Justice Court Judge Pedro R. Herandez set Swerengin’s bond at $15,000 and scheduled him for arraignment in District Court on Sept. 5.

Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney described Swerengin as a “multi-state offender” with convictions for breaking and entering, larceny and manufacturing methamphetamine.

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City news reporter for the Billings Gazette

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