A Missouri man has been charged in connection with the hijacking of a car after a test drive in Belleville. He was captured after crashing another car on I-70 near the Missouri border, according to Illinois State Police Capt. Matt Jany of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force.
Justin T. Johnson of the 8300 block of Jackson Street in Overland, MO, was charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated fleeing and eluding.
Officers are still looking for a second suspect and the stolen car, Jany said.
Jany said Belleville police received a call at 11:27 a.m. Saturday about a vehicular hijacking that occurred near a car lot in the 500 block of South Illinois Street in Belleville. A salesman had taken the other suspect on a test drive in a 2017 gray Dodge Challenger. Jany said.
"When the test drive was almost over, the suspect stopped near the car lot," Jany said. "The salesman noticed the car the suspects came to the car lot in and pulled up behind them.
" The salesman was removed from the car at gunpoint, beaten and kicked while on the ground. The suspects left in the Challenger and a black Honda Accord."
Belleville officers spotted the Honda on Illinois 15 near I-270, Jany said. They pursued it until it crashed on I-70 near the state line.
Johnson, who was the only person in the Accord, "fled from the vehicle and was captured a short distance from the crash site," Jany said. "He was taken to a local hospital and then transported to the Belleville Police Department."
Jany said police found two "AR-style pistols" in the Honda as well as a concealed Mossberg International 715T rifle, but authorities have not recovered the stolen vehicle or arrested the second suspect.
Johnson remains in custody at St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bond.
Jany said the suspects arranged the test drive after the car was listed for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
Jany reminds the public to meet potential online buyers or sellers of cars at their local police department.
"This case is unique in that the sale was through a car lot and was posted on Facebook Marketplace," he said. "...We would remind the public too take advantage of using their local police and sheriff's department to conduct online sales or purchases."
The Metro East Auto Theft Task Force is asking for the public's help in locating the stolen 2017 Dodge Challenger and in identifying the other suspect, who Jany said took the test drive.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to call the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force at 618- 825-5420.