BELFAST — A Wisconsin man led officers on a high-speed chase from Belfast to Searsport on Monday night, police said.

Police received a call at about 10:30 p.m. from a downtown Belfast pub that a man had ordered a beer, paid for it and then picked up his can of Bud Light, walked outside and drove away in his car over the protests of a bartender who followed him outside, Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden said.

Luke Morzenti (Waldo County jail photo)

“The bartender heard him say, ‘I gotta do what I gotta do,’ and he drove off,” McFadden said.

The man, identified as Luke Morzenti of Gile, Wisconsin, was reported to be driving a small vehicle with a canoe on the roof, a description that McFadden said made him easier to find. Belfast police intercepted him on Route 1 near Wentworth Event Center, and, suspecting him of being intoxicated, asked him to get out of the car.

Morzenti refused, McFadden said, and while officers were talking to him, he put the car in gear and sped off toward Searsport. A short distance down the road, he shut off his headlights and tried to outrun the police. McFadden said Morzenti reached speeds between 70 and 100 mph and twice crossed into the opposite lane, nearly colliding head-on with oncoming traffic.

Belfast officers in two cruisers tailed Morzenti and called ahead to Searsport Police. The department had a cruiser parked on Main Street and the officer turned on the blue lights. Within sight of the cruiser, McFadden said, Morzenti took a hard left into the parking lot of Harborlight Square apartments, which does not have another vehicle exit.

“It’s unclear if he knew where he was going,” McFadden said, “but ultimately it proved to be a bad choice.”

Believing Morzenti to be a possible threat, police took cover with guns drawn and shouted at Morzenti to get out of his vehicle. McFadden said Morzenti initially did not get out of the car and instead locked his doors and started to light a cigarette.

Officers eventually got into the car and pulled Morzenti out, at which point McFadden said he began to comply. Police found a .22-caliber rifle in the back seat of the car.

Morzenti was arrested and charged with operating under the influence, eluding an officer, driving to endanger, refusing to submit to arrest or detention and reckless conduct with a weapon, which McFadden said referred to his vehicle.

McFadden said he didn’t know exactly why Morzenti was in the Belfast area, adding that he had an idea but he did not want to remark on it publicly. He claimed less insight about Morzenti’s mysterious statement of purpose outside the bar.

“I have no idea what that meant,” he said.

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