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Suspects being sought after two separate pursuits in Gaston Saturday

Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) – Two separate police chases in the Gaston area ended up with a number of people being detained and several being sought Saturday afternoon. Both ended with the fleeing cars in minor single-vehicle accidents and the drivers continuing to run on foot.

The first pursuit began when Gaston Police Department’s Major Stephen Watkins tried to stop a car while on routine patrol. According to Major Watkins, who is also the department’s spokesman, he activated his lights and siren, but instead of stopping, the driver instead initiated a pursuit by accelerating away.

Watkins said that he pursued the car on two-lane roads after the suspect turned off the highway and eventually led the police cruiser over to Backman Road close to the Pine Ridge town limits. In that area, the man lost control of the car and had a minor crash. He then got out and fled on foot into the woods. Officers from other departments flooded the area and searched for the man. Eventually, they gave up the search and the man escaped. Watkins and other officers have gathered evidence left in the car and hope that will be able to obtain arrest warrants soon.

Several hours later, Watkins was patrolling in another portion of the town when he noticed a car with a metal dealer tag that didn’t match the vehicle it was on. He tried to stop that vehicle and the driver of it also accelerated instead of pulling over.

The driver of this car full of passengers sped down Oakey Springs Road, turned on Carlisle Street, and then right on Meadowfield Road. In this area, Gaston PD Sergeant Marzolwas able to deploy a tire deflation or “stop stick” device. The fleeing Toyota struck those and both front tires immediately went down. Even with two flats on the car, the driver continued driving on the rims for approximately 300 yards and then lost control near Jack Mack Road just short of Sandhills Middle School. The car careened off the road, went through a field, and struck a tree, coming to a stop. Watkins said that four people jumped out of the car and tried to run on foot. The three passengers were quickly taken into custody, but the driver made it to the wood-line.

Officers from Swansea, South Congaree, and the county all flooded the area and began to search the vicinity for the man. Eventually, the search was called off and the car was inventoried and towed. The passengers that were being detained were questioned. Police are confident that the driver will eventually be apprehended in this case as well.

The car in the second chase was reported to have been stolen out of Lexington County. In both cases, illegal items were recovered and cataloged as evidence after the chases.

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