Witness who led police to wanted man recalls the ordeal

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

An alert resident helped Wichita Police locate a wanted man they'd been after for nearly two months.

He asked not to be identified for safety reasons, but the man is feeling thankful after he led officers to Elijah Martinez.

The man saw Martinez and a woman steal his mail Wednesday morning. So, he followed Martinez for several miles, all the while, relaying his location to 911 dispatchers. 

"It turned into speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour down 21st street and running through red lights," he said.

At one point, the suspect stopped at a business near I-235 and Central. That's when the man came face to face with Martinez. 

"My gut instinct told me don't get out of your truck, go near him, because he's probably going to shoot you or take you hostage," he said.

When police arrived, Martinez fired shots at the man and officers. Then, he sped away in the man's truck. 

This was not the first time dozens of officers have been called  to take Martinez into custody.

In October, police say Martinez and two other men broke into a home in College Hill. It took a police helicopter and K9 officers to find and arrest the suspects. Sources told KAKE News two of nine guns that had been reported stolen in a different home burglary were found inside the College Hill home the suspects had been inside. But a day after their arrest, the men were released. Back then, we asked district attorney Marc Bennett why.

"That happens all the time, especially on property crimes." Bennett said. "They'll have to be released because the case is not ready yet."

Warrants were eventually issued and the two other suspects were re-arrested just days later. But Martinez has been on the run for nearly two months.

"Because of that release he could've killed someone. He could've hurt someone really bad," the witness said.

The witness is happy he didn't brush off what he thought was just someone stealing his mail.

"Of all the things I have found out now that he's done and stuff, he could've kept doing that and it could've let to a lot worse things, or somebody possibly dying," he said.

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