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Suspect forces innocent driver to lead police on chase

9:10 AM, Nov 14, 2013   |    comments
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SNELLVILLE, Ga. -- A four-mile chase down Scenic Highway in Snellville ended when police crashed into the car and arrested the suspect. The entire chase was recorded on one of the police officer's dash camera.

The incident involved an innocent driver who was forced to run from police after a burglary suspect jumped into his car and threatened to kill him.

Tariq Bell was almost that innocent driver.

Bell and his 13-year-old daughter were shopping for clarinet reeds at Music & Arts at the Presidential Markets shopping center. As they walked to their car, someone grabbed the Grayson father from behind.

"And when he looked me in my eyes, he said 'give me the keys now'," Bell said.

Bell said he reached for his keys, but instead pulled out his gun.

"I pointed it at him, I said 'get out of the car right now'," he said.

Bell said the suspect got out of the car and moved toward him. "And I stepped back. It was very close," he said. "Put it this way, one more second I probably would have shot him two or three times."

Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead said the series of events started with a 911 call to police. A woman staying at the Crestwood Suites told police three men broke into a room and one of them was carrying a gun.

When officers arrived, they stopped two men coming out of the hotel. Darrell Eugene Thomas, 20, was taken into custody, but the second suspect, 34-year-old Ben Kline, ran after police confiscated a handgun he was carrying.

Police said Kline ran into the parking lot of the Presidential Markets. After his encounter with Bell, he tried to steal another car but couldn't break into it.

Kline ran across Scenic Highway and approached a Nissan Pathfinder that was stopped at a traffic signal, according to police. Chief Whitehead said Kline jumped into the passenger side and ordered the innocent driver to speed off or he would kill him.

"We were concerned about the person who was kidnapped and we didn't know if (the suspect) had a weapon or not," Whitehead said.

Police chased the highjacked vehicle south on Scenic Highway for about four miles.

The Pathfinder collided with police vehicles three times. At one point, it swerved into the oncoming lanes for about a mile, forcing drivers off the road.

The chase finally ended with the vehicle pinned between two police cars.

Chief Whitehead said Kline ran from the stopped vehicle but was caught by pursuing officers.

"We knew that we had to stop the car because if we didn't stop it, other innocent citizens driving down the road were going to be hit," he said. "And we had to do something to protect the hostage that was in the car."

Kline is charged with burglary, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Bell, who was almost a victim, said he's relieved to be safe, but knows he will need to discuss the incident with his young daughter.

"I will definitely talk with her about self-defense and being aware of her surroundings," he said.


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