UPDATE: Man who leads troopers on wild high-speed pursuit through Lexington identified
Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – A SC state trooper tried to stop a vehicle on South Lake Drive near Paps Drive around mid-day Monday never expecting the excitement that would soon follow. The driver, who had two passengers in the vehicle with him, led that trooper and several others on a vehicle chase and later a foot pursuit that ended up with all three suspects finally in custody. Between where this started and where it ended, the fleeing driver led troopers on a wild chase before threatening to hurt himself, all the while adding to his mounting legal problems.
According to Master Trooper David Jones of the SC Highway Patrol, the driver was travelling on South Lake Drive in Red Bank when a trooper noticed his vehicle operating in an erratic manner. When the trooper ran the vehicle’s license tag, it came back registered to a a vehicle that was different than the one it was displayed on. The trooper activated his warning lights to pull the vehicle over but instead of stopping, the driver accelerated, speeding away and initiating the pursuit.
The state trooper radioed that he was in a chase as the Pursuit Dodge Charger and the suspect's vehicle were heading toward Lexington. As the two vehicles got near downtown Lexington, several other troopers joined in the pursuit.
One eyewitness, Mr. Wayne McKim of West Columbia, who is a businessman and attorney said he was driving near Main Street when he spotted the fleeing suspect and the three pursuing troopers near the Lexington County Judicial Center. McKim said, “The suspect and the Dodge Chargers were driving all over the newly planted trees and stuff in the center median coming off Main Street!” He also said he witnessed the suspect’s vehicle sideswipe another car as the operator of that vehicle was trying to get out of the way.
Eventually, the suspect’s vehicle turned onto North Lake Drive, sped by Lexington Elementary’s campus, and then charged straight onto Sunset Boulevard headed toward I-20. When the fleeing suspect’s vehicle got near the intersection of Sunset and Northside Boulevards, the state trooper, knowing this needed to end quickly, performed a PIT maneuver (Patrol Intervention Technique) on the fleeing suspect’s vehicle causing the driver to lose control and spin out. Two of the suspects immediately gave up according to Master Trooper David Jones, but the driver, who still had a little fight in him, fled on foot with a state trooper right behind him.
Master Trooper Jones said that the man ran for about a mile through the wooded and sometimes rough area until he came upon a high concrete retaining-type wall. That’s when he worked his way out into the middle of that and threatened to jump off if the troopers and police didn’t leave him alone.
By this time, Lexington police officers had joined in. Some of those officers closed one lane of Sunset Boulevard while the others coordinated with the three nearest schools to keep their faculty who were on their campuses safe. Northside Christian Academy and Lexington One’s two schools in the area were all put on lock out for some time while the police ensured this situation was under control.
A trained law enforcement negotiator with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department arrived on scene and began talking with the suspect in hopes of bringing a peaceful and safe resolution to the situation, according to Master Trooper Jones. Other law enforcement officers quickly contacted the man's wife for him, and she was brought to the scene. She said in an email to The Lexington Ledger overnight, "I talked him down at the scene for 45 minutes before he would even come down. I was called by Officer Brown to come to the scene to help calm him down so he would not jump and persuade him to come down so they could arrest him.” After some time, the suspect was talked into coming off the concrete structure and giving up.
The man was immediately detained and transported by EMS to a local medical facility for evaluation. The suspect was cleared by doctors around 3:00 p.m. and was transported the Lexington County Detention Center where he was booked into the county’s jail.
According to Master Trooper Jones, the driver, now identified as 25 year-old James Brian Gainey, is charged with failure to obey traffic devices, driving under suspension, and reckless driving. Additional charges could be added at a later time and some could be reduced or dropped. Gainey will probably face a judge at a hearing sometime Tuesday to determine if he is eligible for bond and if so, how much that will be.
The two passengers were cited for various offenses and released.