Carjacking suspect gets felony charge

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) -- A Superior, Neb., man faces a felony robbery charge after a bizarre carjacking incident Monday on Highway 281 south of Doniphan.

James Wheeler, 30, is charged with felony robbery, as well as misdemeanor criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking.

Wheeler was arrested by Hall County Sheriff's deputies after a string of events that played out on Highway 281 just south of Doniphan.

The sheriff's office said Wheeler was hitchhiking in Hastings and accepted a ride from a man there. After the two got into a dispute, the driver forced Wheeler out of his vehicle near the intersection of Highway 281 and West Binfield Road, which is the location of a Pioneer Seeds plant.

Wheeler then reportedly forced the van to stop by standing in traffic. The van was driven by a woman from Shelton, NE. The woman tried to resist, but he was able to enter the van. She then grabbed her infant child who was with her and left the van. Wheeler then attempted to take off with the van.

The Honda Odyssey van was equipped with an ignition system that shut the vehicle down once it was separated from the key fob, which the woman had with her. The van shut down after going just a short distance, at which time the carjacker got out of the vehicle.

Hall County deputies arrived shortly after that and arrested Wheeler at gun point.

No one was injured in the incident.

It was determined that Wheeler had a pocket knife with him, but he did not remove it from his pocket during the incident.

Wheeler's in the Hall County jail on $200,000 bond. His next court date is May 1. If convicted on the robbery charge he could get up to 50 years in prison.

Wheeler was also arrested in January for trying to break-in to the KSNB-TV studios just north of Hastings. He was convicted on three misdemeanors: criminal trespass, criminal mischief and obstructing a police officer. He was scheduled to be sentenced on those convictions on May 28.