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Gaston police officers obtaining warrants for meth dealer who fled from them on an ATV Wednesday

Gaston, SC 01/19/2022 (Paul Kirby) – Gaston police officers were in the process of obtaining arrest warrants Wednesday afternoon for a suspect who fled from them on an ATV after they attempted to arrest him for distributing Methamphetamine. According to Gaston Police Chief Stephen Watkins, the suspect, Larry Gene Davis, Jr., is well known to him and his staff as well as other law enforcement officers in Lexington County who’ve interacted with him several times before.

Chief Watkins said that his department became aware that Davis was selling “Ice”, the street name for Crystal Meth, around the car wash on Hwy 321 south right in the heart of the town. As police approached, he hopped on an ATV and sped away on busy Hwy 321 initiating the pursuit. As officers gave chase, the suspect led them on several two-lane roads that took them to Mack Street. Davis turned into a yard in the 1400 block of Mack and conyinued fleeing off-road. He came back out a smaller road but when officers began closing in, he took to the woods again. “At that point, I knew we had a positive ID on the suspect, and we already knew where he lived. That’s when I decided to terminate the pursuit,” Chief Watkins said. “There was no need to continue chasing him and endangering the public, our officers, or the suspect himself at that point.” Officers did go to Davis’ house which was close by, but he apparently was laying low somewhere. “At that point, I had all the information I needed so I returned to the office to draw up the arrest warrant,” Chief Watkins concluded.

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According to Chief Watkins, several months ago, Davis fled from them in a vehicle. Once they got him stopped, they found that he was in possession of meth and had a pistol stuck between the seats of the vehicle. “This guy definitely has a history with us,” Watkins said. “We have multiple charges against him from today and eventually, we hope he’ll do some significant time."

Chief Watkins said that the decision to pursue someone has a number of factors that has to be considered and that decision must be made in a fraction of a second. “In every case, it’s just not worth it for someone trying to run from us,” Chief Watkins said. “The person running is just racking up additional violations that can make what might have been a simple charge into something that’s extremely serious.” He went on to say that if Gaston officers see someone riding an ATV on the road and the rider stops when the see the blue lights come on, the officer has some leeway and may cut the rider a break. “If they’re not committing some other crime, it’s their first offense, and they’re courteous to us, we sometimes tell them to keep it off the road and be safe before we send them on their way,” Watkins stated. “Lately, we’ve been encountering more and more ATVs being used in serious crimes in the Gaston area. They’re becoming the vehicle of choice for some of our drug dealers around here. Our department is fully committed to putting a stop to the sale of drugs in Gaston. That’s the type of crime that we’re focused on and not something we’re going to ever take lightly.”

PHOTO: Larry Gene Davis, Jr.

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