Gaston, SC (Pal Kirby) – Gaston Police Department Major Stephen Watkins and Chief Shawn Mohundro took Jamell Dukes into custody Tuesday after a car chase that ended in a crash followed by a foot pursuit. Then Dukes tried to hide in the woods but Watkins, aided by Gaston Police Chief Shawn Mohundro, boxed him in, and eventually led him right into a trap.
Watkins was sitting near Hwy. 321 south at Ben Spires Road observing traffic Tuesday afternoon when he noticed a car come by with reflective window tint. Dukes was driving and had his window down. Watkins could clearly see he wasn’t wearing his seat belt. He also ran the cars’s tag on his in-car computer, and that came back registered to another make and model vehicle. Watkins pulled onto the road and Dukes spotted him. When Watkins activated his lights and siren, Dukes sped up instead of stopping, initiating the pursuit.
Watkins said Dukes was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, but his Pursuit Charger caught up to the speeding car near Swansea. Because traffic was light, Watkins continued through Swansea and out the south side. Dukes eventually turned right on Whetstone Road toward Poole’s Mill. Near the train trestle he lost control and crashed the car. He then got out and ran into the woods back toward Hwy. 321 and the railroad tracks. Watkins bailed out of the cruiser and a foot chase ensued.
The suspect crested the R/R tracks, but when Watkins got to the top, Dukes was not in sight. Watkins requested a K-9 respond, but continued to look for the suspect in the wood line. Chief Mohundro was on the Hwy. 321 side, effectively boxing the man in the woods. Dukes, described as a bald, black man with jeans on, ditched his shirt to try and hide. He even laid down in some brush and tried to slink away. That’s when his movement caught Watkin’s eye again. The major concealed himself behind a tree and waited until Dukes got closer and Mohundro got into place. Watkins made his move and Dukes jumped up and tried to run again. Instead of escaping, he ended up face-to-face with the chief who quickly took him into custody. Watkins said after the arrest, “It really worked perfectly.”
Dukes has been transported to the Lexington County Detention Center where has been booked for Operating Uninsured, Failure to Register a Motor Vehicle, Resisting Arrest, a host of traffic charges, and Failure to Stop for a Blue Light.
The SCHP is investigating the crash as is standard procedure when a suspect’s vehicle wrecks during a chase.