UPDATE: Man charged after leading police on chase from Gaston to Pond Branch
Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – A 38-year old man has been arrested and charged after he led officers from the Gaston and Swansea Police Departments, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, and other agencies on a high-speed chase Wednesday afternoon. Michael Adams Owens racked up multiple charges and is in the Lexington County Detention Center where he will face a judge at a bond hearing sometime Thursday.
The pursuit, which started about 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, began in Gaston when Captain Brandon Poole attempted to stop a motorcycle for a traffic violation. Instead of pulling over when Poole activated his cruiser’s lights and siren, Owens, the operator of the bike, accelerated and sped away.
Captain Poole was joined in the pursuit by Gaston Police Chief Shawn Mohundro, and later Swansea Police Chief Cliff Hayes. Several Lexington County Sheriff’s Department units also got in on the action as officers tried multiple times to head Owens off. Just as they would get into a position where they felt they could box him in, he would turn and foil the trap.
The bike was being driven by Owens who was wearing a riding jacket he eventually dumped at the end of the chase. A white female wearing shorts and a black tank top was hanging on the back of the motorcycle while Owens did his best to elude officers.
Owens eventually accelerated to over 90 mph on the sport bike as he fled northwest from Gaston before turning onto Fish Hatchery Road. He eventually came out right at the Pelion Town limits. There, he took a right on Edmund Highway, quickly turned back left onto Old Charleston Road, and blew right by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s South Region Headquarters! By this time, the line of police officers pursuing was growing rapidly.
Chief Hayes, a pursuit driving instructor, was calling the chase as officers stayed right with the bike that continued northwest towards the Pond Branch community. At one point, Owens threw a wallet from the motorcycle that landed alongside the road in the 800 block of Old Charleston. Unfortunately for him, a citizen saw this and called the police giving them the exact address where they could pick the wallet up. After the pursuit, an officer was dispatched to that location to retrieve the wallet so he could see why the Owens dumped it in an obvious attempt to keep officers from seeing it.
The pursuit continued as Owens turned onto Calks Ferry Road, passed Keisler’s Crossroad, and continued out into the Round Hill community. The parade continued as he turned left on Two Notch Road and headed out toward Gilbert. By this time, Owens realized he wasn’t having much success losing the well-trained officers, so he sped out to Juniper Springs Road close to Gilbert High School trying some twists and turns along the way. There, he turned toward Pond Branch Road and raced out in the direction of the 44 Truck Stop. At some point, a trooper from the SCHP also ended up involved either before or after the chase finally ended.
Before Owens reached Pond Branch and Juniper Springs Road at the 44 Truck Stop, an intersection that’s within a block of the I-20 entrance ramp, Owens took a right onto Tiger Circle. This is a small road that’s usually quiet and lined with farmland. By this time, pursuing officers had become convinced that he would eventually try and bail off the bike and try his luck on foot. Owens did try to take the pursuit off road at one point but dumped the bike near some farm outbuildings. He then fled on foot toward the Gilbert Airport, a community developed around an airstrip for flying enthusiast who live right along the edge of the runway.
Police officers quickly detained the female passenger and requested a K-9 team from the sheriff’s department to assist in the search for Owens. Before those units arrived, Owens was located and taken into custody.
Officers have identified the motorcycle as a Suzuki sport bike they believe was stolen out of Richland County. At 2:25 p.m. Wednesday, they were still trying to verify that through the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. The bike had a tag from a Honda displayed on it and the Owens has a long history of traffic violations. He has been on probation and a notation in the police computer system said he had the propensity to run form law enforcement and disregard officer who used their blue lights and siren to try and pull him over.
Gaston police officers have charged Owens with DUS 2nd, failure to stop for blue lights, receiving stolen goods with a value in excess of $10,000, receiving stolen goods, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Owens was transported to the Lexington County Detention where he was booked into the jail.
The female passenger received some scrapes and bruises because of the minor crash as the pursuit ended. She was being treated by Lexington County EMS on the scene after her wild ride on the back of the speeding motorcycle.