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Weekend chases involve stolen car, 14-month-old

By J.R. Tidwell/Editor

More information has been released involving a pair of car chases local law enforcement agencies were involved in on May 5.

One chase involved a stolen vehicle, while the other included a 14-month-old passenger in a car trying to elude police.

Jemison Police Department, Clanton Police Department, Chilton County Sheriff’s Office and Calera Police were all involved in the chases.

According to Sheriff John Shearon, the first chase was instigated by Calera Police, who began following multiple Dodge Chargers and Challengers before heading down Interstate 65 into Chilton County.

“A group of muscle cars was heading down the interstate speeding and cutting people off,” he said. “It seemed like some kind of car club that was heading from Birmingham to Montgomery, and they were acting crazy.”

Authorities observed people inside the vehicles throwing items out of the windows that may or may not have been drugs, according to a Facebook post by the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Shearon said the occupants of three of the four vehicles were apprehended at different locations after the vehicles split up, including one stop made at Exit 208.

According to Shearon, one vehicle stopped and hid behind the old Ace Hardware building in Clanton, with the driver leaving on foot headed down Third Avenue South.

Security cameras at the building allowed authorities to obtain an image of the suspect, which was posted on CCSO’s social media.

Shearon said some weapons were discovered in the vehicles once they were stopped. An empty holster was also discovered, meaning the suspect who left on foot may be armed.

A Department of Corrections dog team was called in to aid in the search for the suspect, but the trail eventually went cold.

“The way the trail ended, we believe he had a cell phone on him and called someone to pick him up,” Shearon said.

As of the evening of May 7 the suspect was still on the loose, but Shearon said authorities do not believe the man poses a threat to the community.

“We just wanted people to be aware he could be armed just in case,” he said. “We determined that one vehicle was stolen during an armed robbery in Birmingham. We don’t know at this time if any drugs were located by Calera Police, but it’s a possibility.”

CCSO posted a description of the suspect along with the security camera image to its Facebook page. The suspect is a “skinny black male estimated to be 5’6”- 6”, [who was] wearing black pants and black shirt.”

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the suspect is asked to call the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office at (205) 755-7898.

In a separate incident, Jemison Police initiated a chase on a female driving a Dodge Dart who was speeding and trying to run vehicles off the road, according to Shearon.

The woman was driving on Interstate 65 before deputies spiked her tires at Exit 208.

The chase continued until mile marker 179.

“The driver tried to force a deputy off the road, which caused both vehicles to wreck,” Shearon said.

The driver and Dep. Edwin Freeman of CCSO were both injured in the wreck.

“They were both transported to [a local hospital],” Shearon said. “The female had a broken ankle. Dep. Freeman has 30-plus staples in his head and over 20 stitches in his elbows. He is mighty sore.”

Despite his injuries, Shearon said Freeman would be OK.

Perhaps more concerning than the injuries to the deputy was the realization that the female driver had a 14-month-old child in her lap in the vehicle during the pursuit.

“If we would have known there was a small child in the vehicle, [the chase] would have ended,” Shearon said. “You just never know.”

Shearon said his department did call the hospital the night of May 5 to check on the status of the child.

“The baby was thankfully fine,” he said.