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Grand jury returns 14 charges against man involved in Ashland chase

 Posted: 6:55 PM February 29, 2012

A Jackson County grand jury Tuesday delivered 14 charges against a 19-year-old man who led police on a low-speed chase through Ashland Feb. 19 before ramming two patrol cars.

A warrant has been issued for Yazeed Abunayyan's arrest, but the Saudi Arabian man won't face the local charges until his federal case — allegedly interfering with a plane crew two days later — is resolved, said Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.

Abunayyan was indicted on one count of attempting to elude, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, three counts of second-degree criminal mischief, failure to perform the duties of a driver when property is damaged, driving under the influence of intoxicants, five counts of recklessly endangering another person, and contempt of court for violating his bail agreement, Hoppe said.

Abunayyan allegedly spun circles in a car on Siskiyou Boulevard, drove the wrong way down the street, tried to run over pedestrians and struck two police cars before high-centering his silver Ford sedan at the end of Clear Creek Drive.

Two counts of assaulting a police officer were dropped by the District Attorney's Office because the officers were not injured, Hoppe said.

When Abunayyan posted bail at the Jackson County Jail on Feb. 20, he signed an agreement that he would remain in the state until his next court appearance. He violated that agreement the next day when he boarded a plane in Portland.

Authorities will continue to hold Abunayyan in Multnomah County Detention Center while the federal case against him remains open, Hoppe said.

That case stems from Abunayyan's Feb. 21 arrest on a Continental Airlines Boeing 737, which was forced to turn around and land back at Portland International Airport about 30 minutes into its flight to Houston.

Abunayyanbecame combative when a flight attendant asked him to stop smoking an electronic cigarette, the federal indictment said. His cousin, who was traveling with him, said he is schizophrenic and and had stopped taking his medication.

The indictment states that Abunayyan began "yelling profanities and swinging his fist at the flight attendant, hitting or attempting to hit several passengers, and speaking or singing about Osama bin Laden and his hatred of women."

Abunayyan on Friday pleaded not guilty to a charge of interfering with a plane crew in the U.S. District Court in Portland.

— Sam Wheeler

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