There’s eluding the police, then there’s just plain taunting them. Chip Pugh is taunting them.
Pugh, 45, gained Facebook notoriety this week when the Lima Police Department put a photo online of him, saying they were looking for him after he skipped a court appearance.
The post, using a smiling booking photo from a recent OVI, noted an active warrant for the arrest of Donald A. “Chip” Pugh for failure to appear. The LPD said he was a person of interest in several other cases, including arson and vandalism.
Pugh is no angel. He has previous run-ins with the police on charges including domestic violence, breaking and entering, and disorderly conduct.
His conduct in this case is extraordinarily disorderly. Pugh didn’t like the picture they used. He sent another one.
He even personalized it with a note, “Here is a better photo that one is horrible.”
The LPD shared that picture on Facebook too, noting, “This photo was sent to us by Mr. Pugh himself. We thank him for being helpful, but now we would appreciate it if he would come speak to us at the LPD about his charges.”
You can imagine how much fun the Internet had with it at that point. He became a viral star. Once you become a star, people want to interview you.
“Man, they just did me wrong,” Pugh told the radio hosts. “They put a picture that made me look like I was a Thundercat or something.”
He said his original photo was a little too cheerful because he knew he wouldn’t be held on a drinking and driving charge. Once released, he simply decided he didn’t want to make his court appearance.
“When I was a little kid, my grandmother told me a bedtime story,” Pugh said on the radio. “My hero was this character, who used to say, ‘Run, run, fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man.’”
He proceeded to joke about where he was. He said he was in Town Square holding a sign saying “Not Guilty.” He claimed he was at a McDonald’s. He said in a chicken coop, making his own rooster noises.
“At the end of the day, everyone is cheering for Chip,” Staley said on the radio.
They’re certainly cheering online. There’s a video of someone doing a new dance called the “Chip Pugh,” which looks a lot like the running man dance. He’s appeared in a “Where’s Waldo?” type of puzzle. Someone posted they saw him on a slice of toast.
There’s even a “Free Chip Hugh” page on Facebook formed Thursday, with 161 followers as of Saturday afternoon. It showcases pictures of Pugh “hiding” in the bushes in front of LPD and behind Police Chief Kevin Martin.
“It went viral in a way,” Pugh said to the radio hosts. “I started having fun with it. I became a hometown hero. I can’t help but run with it. I did it for my idiot friends.”
Even Austin, who seems like a law-and-order kind of guy and urged Pugh to turn himself in, couldn’t help but like Pugh’s tactics.
“What is wrong with you?” Austin asked. “At the end of the day, how can you not end up liking this guy a little bit?”