2 arrested following robbery, police chase

Becky Campbell • Feb 19, 2013 at 9:45 PM

It may be next week before two Chattanooga men are transported from the Unicoi County jail to face robbery charges here, a police official said Tuesday.

Unicoi County deputies arrested the men — Martell Jones, 26, 3818 Dorris St., Chattanooga, and Ledarius Owens, 27, 4005 Highland Ave., Chattanooga — after stopping their vehicle with spike strips on Interstate 26 a short time after the robbery.

“We put a hold on them and we have warrants on file,” said JCPD Lt. Steve Sherfey. “We’ll get them when Unicoi County gets through with them.”

But it isn’t just Unicoi County that wants custody of the men. Madison County, N.C. also had charges stemming from the vehicle chase and Jones is wanted in Hamilton County on an attempted murder charge. That warrant was just filed last week, authorities said.

The Washington County robbery charge stems a holdup at Little Caesar’s Pizza on North Roan Street around 8 p.m. Monday. Johnson City police said one black male entered the store round 8 p.m., showed a gun and demanded employees hand over money from the safe and cash register.

The man left with the money and got into a red, four-door car with a spoiler. A witness told police the car turned left onto North Roan Street.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said his department received a call from North Carolina authorities who were pursuing a red vehicle with no visible registration on Interstate 26 westbound toward Tennessee.

Hensley said the pursuit started in Madison County, N.C. and Unicoi County received the call as the vehicle approached the Tennessee state line.

Hensley also said the descriptions of Jones and Owens matched the BOLO, or be-on-the-lookout, alert issued by JCPD in connection to the pizza store robbery.

According to Hensley, Chief Deputy Frank Rogers and other deputies set up spike strips at Exit 46 in an attempt to stop the car.

The strips flattened a couple of the vehicle’s tires, but the driver — later determined to be Owens — continued westbound on I-26. Deputies continued the pursuit and set up a rolling roadblock around Exit 43. As officers attempted to stop the car, Owens struck a cruiser the concrete barrier along the interstate several times, Hensley said.

Owens veered off the road at Exit 40, and he ran from the car, scaled the right-of-way fence near the exit and ran into the Valero service station parking lot, Hensley said. Officers were able to catch up to Owens there and take him into custody.

Jones was also taken into custody. He isn’t charged in Unicoi County, but Owens will be arraigned on an evading arrest charge today in General Sessiosn Court.

Hensley also said Madison County, N.C. officials have not yet filed charges against the men.

When officers searched the vehicle, they found rolls of coins and a bank bag containing cash, Hensley said.

According to the Chattanooga Police Department, Jones is wanted in connection with three robberies there. He’s charged with four counts of aggravated robber and one count each of attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping, according to Chattanooga Police Department spokesman Nathan Hartwig.

One robbery occurred on Feb. 2 and the other two on Feb. 11. One of Feb. 11 robberies involved the kidnapping and attempted murder, but Hartwig could not provide further details.

Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report.

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