Gaston PD thanks public for assistance after fugitive arrested

Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – Gaston PD used tips from the public to apprehend a suspect that fled a traffic stop Wednesday afternoon. Once the man was placed in custody, he was charged with a number of serious crimes.

Major Stephen Watkins of the Gaston PD was on routine patrol Wednesday afternoon when he spotted a black Chevy pickup truck pulling a small trailer loaded with lumber on Woodtrail Dr. near Archwood St. in the town. Watkins noticed that some of the lumber was falling off the trailer, so he activated his emergency devices to pull it over. He thought he might help the driver reload and secure the lumber, and then he could go back on patrol. Instead of stopping, the driver sped away.

Watkins began to give chase. The driver blew through the stop sign at Boy Scout Rd., and sped down the narrow road until he turned sharply into a long drive. At that point, the lumber was flung from the trailer blocking the pursuing officer’s cruiser from continuing the chase.

Watkins was not deterred. He bailed out of his cruiser and began running down the driver on foot in pursuit of the pickup. When the driver ran out of room to run, he too bailed out and dashed into the woods fleeing toward Hunter Wood Drive.

At this point, Watkins broadcast a description of the fleeing suspect. That description was picked up by officers that were converging to back him up and the staff of the Lexington Ledger news. Officers quickly set up a perimeter that surrounded Boy Scout, Sugar Loaf, Hwy. 321 south, Wood Trail, Hunter Woods Drive, and all of the adjacent roads. The Ledger quickly posted the description over all its social media sites and shared it into area groups as well.

Within moments, 100’s of Facebook users began to SHARE the social media post that included the description of the suspect and what he was wearing. The public that lived in the area, and those who knew someone who did, began to spread the word about the manhunt.

Within the hour, a woman called the county’s 911 center to report that she saw a man that met the description slip into the shed in her yard. Officers responded to her home, found, and quickly took the suspect into custody.

Joshua Daniel Bailey of Gaston has now been booked into the county detention center. He has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, altering a vehicle’s VIN plate, DUS 3, altering a license plate, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamines, reckless driving, and failure to stop for a blue light.

Major Watkins said, “This worked just like it was supposed to. People began to SHARE The Ledger’s social media post, they stayed calm, and they kept their eyes open. We didn’t have a very good trail for Lexington County’s dogs so without the public’s help, we may not have caught the guy.”

Watkins also thanked the other agencies that responded to assist. “We work hand in hand with Lexington County and their K-9s regularly. We also had an officer from Pine Ridge Police Department there as well.”

Watkins said that the truck was reported stolen out of Calhoun County in late March of this year. The man had used spray cans to paint the truck black. He placed a stolen license tag on it that came back to a small car in Sumter. The lumber that was on the trailer he was pulling is also believed to be stolen.

Bailey will face a judge at a bond hearing over the next few days.

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