Disclaimer: All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
MANDEVILLE, La. (WGNO) — A Florida woman is in custody after detectives say a bizarre incident involving a blowtorch and a school bus led to a police chase and crash on the North Shore Tuesday morning.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office says shortly before 6 a.m., deputies responded to an area gas station in the 2200 block of Florida Street in Mandeville. The caller indicated a woman entered the store, blowtorch in hand, asking where the local Department of Children and Family Services office is.
“Our deputies were alerted to a situation in Mandeville, where a female subject entered a convenience store carrying a blow torch, a propane blow torch. She had gotten into a small verbal altercation with some customers in the parking lot there. Never made any threats, and the blow torch wasn’t lit,” Captain Keith Canizaro with St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
We’re told the woman, later identified as 37-year-old Natalie Jade Jarvis of Florida, was driving a school bus covered in graffiti with Virginia license plates. Deputies say her old repurposed school bus was covered in graffiti which read, “Sex Trafficking Awareness.”
Later in the morning, detectives located the bus on U.S. Highway 190 near Walmart. That’s when the STPSO says a pursuit started, heading into downtown Covington. The driver, determined to be Jarvis, then crashed into a fence at St. Scholastica Academy on South Massachusetts Street. No students were at the school at the time of the incident.
Jarvis was then arrested and the blowtorch was recovered from inside the bus. No one else was on the bus when the chase ensued.
Detectives believe the suspect had been living in the bus at a local state park for the last month. A man believed to also have been living in the bus was arrested at the park on domestic abuse charges in January.
“Other than refusing to pull over on the small streets, driving a large school bus, there was not a real threat to the community,” Capt. Canizaro said.
No other details regarding the chase were released, however, the STPSO continues to investigate the incident. We’re told felony charges are pending for Jarvis.
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