Two local men are being praised as heroes for capturing two fugitives running from the law Wednesday afternoon in Newtown.
Jimmy Jones and Jonathan Townsend chased the suspects down a hill and over a creek. They were able to get them on the ground at gunpoint and hold them until officers arrived.
“I wasn’t about to let them get away,” said Jones, a retired state trooper with 30 years of experience. “When we started chasing them, I guess you could say the state trooper came out in me. We were at an advantage because I know these woods and they had no idea where they were. It slowed them down getting across the creek and that allowed us to get real close. I made them aware that I had a gun and was prepared to use it if they didn’t get on the ground. When they heard that, they dropped like a load of bricks.”
A large number of officers were already in the area searching for the suspects. Their vehicle was found abandoned on Bridge Builders Road, about a half mile from where they were eventually caught around 1 p.m. after a one-hour manhunt.
Townsend said he didn’t think twice about chasing the suspects, despite the fact the two men were believed to be armed.
“I’m not big on letting people get away with stuff they shouldn’t be doing,” said Townsend. “There are too many good people who live around here to let some criminals break into their house and kidnap them, or try to carjack them to get out of the area. I’m not going to back away when it comes to stuff like that.”
The two were in the area because Sheriff Tommy Myers called Jones to alert him that a Ford Edge that had run from police at speeds over 100 mph was found abandoned on Bridge Builders Road near his property.
“I own two houses over here,” said Jones, who had Townsend with him because the two do excavation work together. “We checked at the first house and everything was OK. We saw them at the second house. We had just got done checking the doors to make sure they were locked and we were going out back to check at the barn. Jonathan is the one who saw them out by the barn. When we saw them, we didn’t say anything to each other. There was no verbal communication at all. We both started running after them at the same time.”
The chase went down a hill in the woods, a stretch of about 400 to 500 yards, before the suspects, identified as Jeffery Dews, 21, and Armond Dews, 24, both of Chattanooga, had to slow down to cross a creek. They were unarmed at the time, reportedly throwing their guns out the window during the police chase.
Jones and Townsend, both with guns, estimate they held the suspects on the ground for five to seven minutes before law enforcement arrived.
“The hardest part was telling them where we were,” said Jones, indicating he was on his cellphone trying to give Sheriff Myers directions. “When they finally figured it out, there were probably 20 deputies on the scene.”
An 18-year-old female suspect who was initially with the two men was taken into custody by Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Bo Ramsey.
All three suspects were transported to Coffee County Sheriff’s Department because the high-speed chase started in that county. The female is not charged at this time.