Virginia National Guard Soldier Joshua Philip Yabut has been arrested following the alleged theft and subsequent chase of an armored vehicle into downtown Richmond, Virginia.
The 29-year-old Virginia National Guard Soldier allegedly stole an M577 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) from Fort Pickett on the evening of June 5 and led authorities on a 60-mile chase into downtown Richmond — while tweeting. Photos, videos, and odd unrelated messages peppered his timeline.
“Meeesa jar jar binks,” said one. Another was a location and the Wikipedia entry for a different APC. Then he tweeted, “permission to execute the 0day sir,” and things like “all i wanna do is get an anime wife.” He also said he was thirsty, asked about the location of a water buffalo, and posted two copies of a selfie.
Fortunately for all involved, no one but Yabut himself came to any harm. Virginia National Guard spokesperson Cotton Puryear said, “the unit was conducting routine training at Fort Pickett when [Yabut] drove away in the armored personnel carrier” but that “the vehicle was not equipped with any weapons.” And while “the Soldier did have his personal weapon with him,” he had no ammunition. In the end, Yabut was tased by police after refusing to follow orders but was otherwise taken safely into custody.
Adjutant General of Virginia, Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, said: “We are extremely grateful that there were no injuries as a result of this incident, and we appreciate the great work of the Virginia State Police, Richmond Police Department and other law enforcement and first responders who safely brought this situation to a close,” and, “we have initiated our own internal investigation, and we will determine appropriate actions once the investigation is complete.”
Before this incident, the first lieutenant assigned as the commander of the Petersburg-based Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, served for 11 years. He was deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the Illinois National Guard. From 2014 to 2017, Yabut worked as a civil servant in NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, in the Office of the Chief Information Officer. He will have his day in court on July 11.