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Arson suspect arrested in Marion County after fleeing deputies, hiding in tree

A 39-year-old arson suspect was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office after he fled from deputies and attempted to hide in a tree.

On Sunday, January 1, an MCSO deputy located a male arson suspect, identified as Jessie James Kropp, who was traveling westbound in a vehicle on Highway 318 in Citra, according to MCSO.

Jessie James Kropp
Jessie James Kropp

The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed, and the deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop. MCSO stated that Kropp placed his middle finger out of the driver’s side window and refused to stop.

Arson suspect arrested in Marion County after fleeing deputies hiding in tree 2
An MCSO deputy pursuing Kropp’s vehicle (Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

An MCSO deputy successfully deployed stop sticks, which forced the vehicle to come to a stop. Kropp exited the vehicle while holding a baseball bat, and deputies issued several commands for him to stop and drop the weapon.

Arson suspect arrested in Marion County after fleeing deputies hiding in tree
Deputies issuing commands for Kropp to drop his weapons (Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

According to MCSO, Kropp pulled out a machete, and a deputy deployed a taser in an attempt to detain Kropp. MCSO stated that the taser did not affect Kropp, and he proceeded to flee on foot into a nearby wooded area.

An MCSO corporal and K-9 partner arrived on scene and began to track the area in search of Kropp. The K-9 partner led deputies on a 20-minute track to a tree, where Kropp was hiding, according to MCSO.

Arson suspect arrested in Marion County after fleeing deputies hiding in tree 3
The K-9 partner leading deputies to the tree where Kropp was hiding (Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputies requested for Kropp to come down, and he stated that he was unable to feel his legs. Kropp then climbed higher into the tree.

After nearly 11 hours of negotiations, Kropp eventually came down from the tree and was detained in handcuffs. While investigating the incident, MCSO discovered that the vehicle Kropp was driving had been reported stolen out of Tennessee.

Kropp was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail where he is currently being held without bond. He is facing felony charges for second degree arson, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, along with a misdemeanor charge for resisting an officer without violence.

A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 31, according to jail records.