Bodycam video shows woman rescued from burning car that was stolen at gunpoint in Pierce County
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department released body camera video showing the arrest of a suspected armed carjacking that ended in a destructive fire in Tacoma.
On Tuesday, a judge set bail at $250,000 for suspect Randy Tipa.
The situation started at Pierce County’s Orangegate Park on June 12. A woman was visiting the park near Fife when detectives said Tipa came out of the woods with a handgun, demanding she give up her car keys, phone and purse.
"This guy randomly robbed someone that he didn’t know at gunpoint. He’s extremely dangerous," said Sgt. Darren Moss Jr., public information officer for Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators said the car owner had Apple AirTag devices on the keys and wallet, which helped officers track Tipa’s every move. They found him with a woman he knew at a shopping plaza in Federal Way, where the car owner said Tipa tried to use her credit card, but the transaction declined.
Court doents said just as Tipa and the woman moved the stolen car from a parking spot, several deputies tried to box him in at the parking lot. However, Tipa, "began to rock the Corolla back and forth, and managed to create enough momentum to back up over a curbed flower bed, and push one of the patrol cars out of the way."
Deputies used stop sticks, but Tipa drove through the tire-deflation devices. The esc triggered a pursuit through Federal Way, Fife and Tacoma. Moss explained there was probable cause to chase the suspect because armed robbery is a pursuable offense in Washington. Investigators said Tipa swerved through traffic at speeds as high as 100 miles per hour.
"Pose a substantial danger to the Pierce County community. This is not only violent behavior, but behavior that put members of the Pierce County community, the victim and law enforcement all at risk of substantial harm," said Morrow.
Deputies used a PIT Maneuver to stop Tipa on a southbound curb on I-5 in Tacoma. Deputies said Tipa immediately got out of the car and ran about 100 yards before deputies tackled and arrested him.
During the arrest, the extremely hot car sparked a brush fire on the dry grass. The fire and heavy smoke spread quickly through the stolen car and two patrol cars. The woman was still inside, trapped in the backseat.
"The biggest concern at that point was there was a female passenger in the suspect vehicle. Our deputies along with one Tacoma Police officer were able to pull that woman from the vehicle before it was fully engulfed," said Moss.
Prosecutors in Pierce County said Tipa was previously charged for stealing cars and identities, and has even eluded officers before. In fact, prosecutors said he had two active warrants when he was arrested for the carjacking at gunpoint.
"Most concerning, the defendant was out on bail when these incidents are alleged to have occurred. He has been previously arraigned on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle…for which he was arraigned and released on bail back on March 9 of 2023," said prosecutor Matthew Morrow.
Tipa could face charges including first-degree robbery, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, second-degree identity theft and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.