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Newborn man accused of deliberately striking teen with his vehicle

COVINGTON -- A 65-year-old Newborn man has been arrested after witnesses say he used his automobile to deliberately strike a 14-year-old boy, according to the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

James Dennis Darnell of 60 Brook Hollow Way, has been charged with aggravated assault, criminal trespass and terroristic threats and acts.

NCSO Public Information Officer Deputy Courtney Morrison said the incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 when the 14-year-old and his father were visiting friends who also lived at the residence.

"According to witnesses, the perpetrator pulled into the driveway at a high rate of speed and struck a car," Morrison said, adding that there were several people standing in the driveway at the time. "The complainant (the father of the injured boy) started yelling at the driver and telling him, 'You need to watch out.' At that point, the driver backed up and struck the vehicle again and then headed straight for the complainant and others standing close by. Everyone was able to get away except for the victim who was struck in his right leg in the area of his knee."

Morrison said the complainant then told the perpetrator he was going to call the police, at which time he allegedly responded that he would get his shotgun and shoot him.

The man left and took his son to the hospital, where he notified authorities.

"Witness statements were consistent with what the complainant said," Morrison said.

In other crime news, the NCSO and the Newton County Fire Service are investigating an arson on Sunflower Lane in the early morning hours Tuesday.

According to an NCSO incident report, a call initially came out that shots were fired in the area of Ga. Highways 162 and 81. Deputies were later dispatched to 135 Sunflower Lane to assist the fire department with two cars on fire.

A witness told authorities that he had observed a white Escalade in the area around the time the fire started. He said he saw the Escalade stop on Ann Court where a black male exited the vehicle and took something from the back.

"He then made a U-turn and drove eastbound on Sunflower Lane. (He) stated approximately 30 minutes later, he heard a loud noise and what appeared to be a gun shot in the same direction the white Escalade was traveling. (The witness) looked outside and saw flames coming from the same direction," the report states.

NCFS Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling said the case is being investigated as an arson and had so far there was no evidence of a gun being fired.

"We're still investigating the actual cause of the fire," she said.

Also, a man called the NCSO to say that an unknown perpetrator had assaulted him and stolen his laptop computer Monday around 7 p.m.

"The complainant said he was driving through the parking lot at Salem Square on Salem Road when an unknown male stopped him," Morrison said. "The victim said he had a brief conversation with the man who flagged him down and admitted to allowing the subject to enter his vehicle. Once inside the vehicle, he said the perpetrator reached over to grab his wallet that was between his legs. A scuffle ensued and the victim was able to force the man off of him."

The victim went on to say that during the struggle, the perpetrator wound up in the backseat where his laptop computer was located. He said the man grabbed his laptop, opened the back door and fled the scene on foot.

The perpetrator is described as a light-skinned black male, approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall, weighing about 170 pounds and wearing blue jeans, a long-sleeved white shirt, a black baseball cap and a black jacket.

Anyone with any information as to the identity of the perpetrator is asked to call the NCSO at 678-625-1400 or go to their website at www.newtonsheriffga.org where an anonymous tip can be made.