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Driver of stolen car in custody after pursuit in Gaston

Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – The driver of a car that was stolen out of Springdale on Wednesday led a Gaston police officer on a short chase before crashing the stolen car and trying to escape on foot. He was taken into custody after an officer chased him down and subdued him with a taser.

According to Chief Kevin Cornett of the Springdale PD, his department received intelligence that suggested that the car was in the Gaston area of the county. They were working with the county to get everything in order to go and retrieve it and apprehend the suspects Thursday afternoon.

While officers were getting everything together, Major Stephen Watkins of the Gaston PD was patrolling when he spotted the car with several people in it travelling on Ballpark Road. Watkins attempted to stop the car when the driver initiated a pursuit down Hwy. 321 south toward Swansea. He tried to turn right on Ben Spires Road at a high rate of speed when he lost control of the car, slid off the road, went between the stop and the street signs, careened up an embankment, narrowly missing a utility pole, and came to stop in some brush. At this point, both the driver and the passenger jumped out of the car and attempted to flee on foot. The driver was quickly run down, subdued, and taken into custody.

The passenger, described as a white male in his early 20’s, wearing a black t-shirt and cargo pants, ran down Ben Spires away from Hwy. 321 and eventually into the brush. Lexington County’s K-9 teams responded to the scene and were set on the suspect's track. Officers called the search after a short period of time because the heat was stressing the dogs and officers felt as if they could apprehend the suspect through investigative means, evidence, and intelligence they had.

Major Watkins said that officers had no reason to believe that the passenger that is still on the run is armed or dangerous. “He’s not known to have any weapons that we know of,” Watkins said. He continued by saying that the police don’t believe that the public is in any imminent danger because he was not immediately apprehended. He did urge anyone who knows the whereabouts of the passenger that fled to call the Gaston PD at (803) 785-2521 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-Crime SC.

Both Watkins and Cornett said that the suspects would be facing charges in both towns in regard to the incident. Springdale is preparing charges because of the grand larceny of the car which was stolen there. Gaston PD will have additional charges as a result of the suspects possessing the stolen car in that town and for fleeing the traffic stop.

The driver of the vehicle that was taken into custody has been identified as Justin Allen Kutz. He was transported by Lexington EMS to be treated for what appeared to be minor injuries received when the car crashed and during the arrest. He will then be transported to and booked into the detention center,where he will await a bond hearing.

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