HOUSTON – Houston police have released the identity and mugshot of the man who led officers on a wild chase, then swam across the Brazos River in an attempt to get away. Charges have been filed against Jose Luis Orta.
Orta, 46, was charged with felon in possession of firearm, evading arrest or detention and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, cocaine.
Orta, who was driving a pickup truck, led police on a chase Monday afternoon from Houston through Brazoria County. He was seen firing shots out the window of the truck during the chase.
Police said the chase began around 1:30 p.m. at West Orem and Alameda.
Houston police pulled over the original driver of the pickup truck, Jaime Garza, for two outstanding warrants. While police were taking Garza into custody, they said Orta jumped from the passenger seat into the driver's seat and took off in the pickup.
Investigators believe Orta threw drugs, including cocaine and meth, out of the truck's window during the pursuit. They also believe he shot at officers during the chase.
Orta eventually crashed through an access gate on commercial property, the Providence Plantation, at 10230 Plantation Road and drove right up to the river.'
“Our boss pulled out in front of the gate. He was probably going 60-70 ... swerved, missed the gate, hit the fence and kept on going,” said Patrick Cassidy, who works at Providence Plantation. He said workers there knew the chase was coming their way. He said the driver drove through a fence and pointed a gun out the window on his way through. He said, “Apparently had two guns on him. The cops were running around everywhere. There were like 20 cop cars.”
Orta then jumped out of the vehicle and into the Brazos River. He swam off in the muddy waters, then finally stopped along the riverbank.
At one point, Orta threw a cellphone onto the riverbank.
Orta finally stopped along the muddy bank, where three officers on top of the bank were talking to him. He stripped down to his underwear as police tried to coax him out of the river.
Authorities threw a rope down to Orta, who was having trouble climbing up the muddy bank. The ordeal ended around 3:15 p.m. when he was taken into custody.
According to court documents, Orta has a prior conviction in 2011 for bail jumping, and another for arson in 2009.