COVINGTON — A Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputy wound up arresting four people after he attempted a traffic stop to verify the identity of a suspicious person Wednesday night.
According to NCSO Public Information Officer Cortney Morrison, a BOLO alert was issued after a suspicious person was seen in the vicinity of Salem Road.
“A deputy was in the area that the individual had been seen in and he observed a vehicle with an individual in it that looked like the person in the BOLO,” Morrison said. “He began following the vehicle, a Lincoln Continental, and it went from Salem Road to Kirkland Road and accelerated to about 50 mph.”
Morrison said the deputy continued to follow the car and activated his emergency equipment so the driver would stop, but at that time the driver passed a car in a no-passing zone and got up to speeds of 70 mph. He then turned onto Gum Tree Trail, which dead ends into a cul-de-sac.
The Lincoln stopped and a black man wearing red shorts and a black shirt jumped from car and took off on foot through the yard of a duplex apartment, Morrison said.
The deputy gave chase and the driver of the Lincoln ran to the back of the apartment and at that time, the deputy heard an apartment door slam shut.
Once backup arrived, a PA system was used to order all the people inside the apartment to come out. Deputies had seen individuals peer out the windows at them. Eventually, two women came out and when deputies repeatedly asked them if anyone else was inside, they said they were the only people there.
Deputies asked for permission to search the premises and the women gave their consent.
“They entered the apartment and searched and didn’t find anyone inside. Then they realized there was an attic and when the hatch to the attic was moved, a piece of red fabric fell out,” Morrison said, adding that they knew their suspect was wearing red shorts. “They were able to get the individual out without incident.”
Before they left the apartment, however, Morrison said deputies heard more movement in the attic and knew somebody else was up there. They had begun to call for that individual to come down when his leg fell through the ceiling, almost striking a deputy in the head. Morrison said that person continued to resist coming down, until his whole body fell through the ceiling.
As it turned out, the driver of the Lincoln, Derrick Lee Hightower, 25, of 138 Gum Tree Trail, was not the suspicious person they were seeking. He was, however, arrested and charged with fleeing and attempting to elude, passing in a no passing zone, reckless driving, failure to yield when entering a roadway and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Additionally, once he got to the jail, Hightower allegedly threatened the deputy using profanity and he was also charged with terroristic threats and acts.
The other three individuals involved were each arrested and charged with hindering apprehension. They are Mia Tillmon, 22, of 138 Gum Tree Trail; Mary Scott, 39, of 158 Gum Tree Trail; and Mondrell White, 27, of 138 Gum Tree Trail.