It was a spectacular two-hour joyride on an epic scale that shook up social media.

A tank-like armoured personnel carrier was taken from a US national guard base near Richmond, Virginia, and driven into the city, 95km away.

The suspect, a company commander, tweeted during the incident.

Now Virginia Army National Guard First Lieutenant Joshua Phillip Yabut, 29, has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, eluding police, and felony unauthorised use of a vehicle, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

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The Guard said that the 276th Engineer Battalion was doing routine training at Fort Pickett "when he drove away in the armoured personnel carrier."

The Times-Dispatch reports that Yabut had 11 years of service and was deployed to Afghanistan with the Illinois National Guard from 2008 to 2009.

Yabut tweeted a screenshot of a map of the capitol in Richmond next to a screenshot of a Wikipedia entry for the M113 armoured personnel carrier. He also seems to have taken video footage of himself while driving.

In February Yabut filed to run as an independent for US Senate, though he was notified in March that his application lacked adequate information, the Times-Dispatch says.

Yabut allegedly drove the unarmed vehicle on Route 460 and then to Richmond on Interstate 95. At Richmond, the vehicle was driven toward the Capitol building.

The suspect stopped on a median and got out. Police sent a dog after him and shot him with a Taser, witnesses told the Times-Dispatch.