At around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, a Missoula Police officer observed a vehicle leaving a Magic Diamond Casino with a very faded temporary license plate. The officer followed the vehicle and determined that the temporary tag expired in March 2021. Police Public Information Officer Lydia Arnold explains.

“A Missoula Police officer observed a vehicle with out of date registration,” Arnold said. “The officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The vehicle failed to pull over and accelerated away from the officer. The officer continued behind the vehicle with their emergency lights and sirens activated. The vehicle almost caused an accident when failing to obey traffic signals and endangered other drivers while trying to elude the police.”

At one point, the suspect vehicle nearly caused a t-bone collision with another vehicle. According to Arnold, the suspect vehicle made multiple turns in a neighborhood and lost the pursuing officers.

“Other officers were in the area and the vehicle was quickly located, but the vehicle was unoccupied,” Arnold said. “Witnesses contacted the police and advised of a male running on foot away from the vehicle. Officers located the male. The male continued to not follow officer’s commands after officers had advised the male he was under arrest. Officers used the necessary physical force to take the male into custody.”

The male admitted that he had smoked a “point or two” of heroin earlier in the day. He later admitted that he had also “taken a couple rips” of methamphetamine earlier in the day. During transport to the jail, the male was apologetic for his actions and indicated that he did not wish for anyone to get hurt during the pursuit.

The male was later identified as 45-year-old Scott Puffinburger. According to court documents, Puffinburger failed to appear in District Court on July 14, 2021 for a final pretrial conference on a felony charge. Puffinburger previously posted a surety bond in the amount of $25,000. The Court issued an Order requiring Puffinburger to appear personally at all Court hearings. Following Puffinburger’s failure to appear, the Court issued another warrant in the amount of $10,000.

Puffinburger was charged with criminal endangerment, bail-jumping, escape, fleeing from or eluding a peace officer, and obstructing a peace officer.

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