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An Auburn University lacrosse player was so infatuated with the video game series “Grand Theft Auto” that he went on a real life crime spree to see “what it felt like.”
Zachary Burgess, 20, compiled quite the rap sheet during his joyride that occurred over the weekend while he was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, watching the Auburn football team take on Louisiana State. According to the criminal complaint, the crime spree began when another man pulled into a bar parking lot and left his truck running while he stepped out of the vehicle.
It’s unclear if he was intoxicated at the time, but Burgess hopped into the idle vehicle and began to drive off. Unfortunately, Burgess wasn’t the only person in the truck. Monique Jiarusso, who was waiting for her companion inside the truck, soon became a hostage after Burgess “forcibly” kept her in the vehicle as he tried to speed off. As he began to drive away, Burgess started sideswiping parked cars to cause even more damage.
“When he tried to flee the parking lot there were several cars blocking the way,” said Cpl. Coppola. “He began ramming into the parked cars.”
Quickly drawing the ire of onlookers, Burgess decided to ditch the truck after ramming nine other vehicles. Jiarusso used this moment as her chance to escape, but Burgess wasn’t so lucky. Angry bystanders grabbed Burgess and held him down until police arrived.
“A GTA individual”
Officers detained Burgess and later interviewed him about his motive for the mini-spree. L’Jean McKneely, who works for the Baton Rouge Police Department, said the 20-year-old offered an interesting explanation.
“One of his statements was that, he wanted to see what it was to be a Grand Theft Auto individual, what it felt like,” said McKneely.”I guess to take a car and strike several vehicles at a high rate of speed.”
Burgess was charged with several crimes, including:
- Theft of a motor vehicle;
- Nine counts of hit and run; and
- Simple kidnapping.
Criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman said Burgess is going to feel the effects of his actions for a long time.
“Regardless of how these criminal charges play out, theft, hit-and-run, and kidnapping are all serious charges,” said Appelman. “Even if his attorney is successful in getting most or all the charges reduced, he’s not just going to get a slap on the wrist. Jail, fines, and probation are just some of the possible penalties, not to mention how these charges may affect his ability to stay on the lacrosse team or find a job after school.”
Burgess was later released after posting $80,000 bond.
Related source: Huffington Post