COVINGTON, Ga. — One of three burglary suspects who died in a fiery Labor Day crash as they fled from pursuing Newton County sheriff’s deputies Sept. 7 was out on bond after being charged with shooting a Clayton County police officer earlier this year.
Alejandro Guerra, 19, of McDonough; Arthur Harris, 20, of Jonesboro; and Avidan Rojas, 19, of Lithonia, were identified as the suspects who died in the wreck, said spokeswoman Caitlin Jett of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office today, Oct. 5.
The incident occurred as deputies pursued the suspects along Fairview Road in western Newton County, the Georgia State Patrol reported.
After the identities of the three were confirmed, a Clayton County Police Department officer contacted the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and said Guerra had been arrested following the shooting of a Clayton officer March 24, Jett said.
Guerra was out on bond on Sept. 7 after being charged with the crime, which followed the officer responding to a call about an armed male wearing a mask, Jett said.
DeKalb County and Conyers police departments also confirmed the suspects’ vehicle matched the description of one used in numerous automobile break-ins reported to their agencies, the spokeswoman said.
In the Sept. 7 incident, Jett said two suspects were attempting to enter automobiles in a neighborhood off Fairview Road at about 2:24 a.m. while the third followed closely behind, possibly as a getaway driver.
After deputies arrived, the suspects fled in a 2010 Toyota Tacoma truck. A marked sheriff's office patrol car with its siren and emergency lights activated pursued the suspects north on Fairview Road, the state patrol reported in September.
As the truck’s driver attempted to negotiate a curve to the left, the vehicle failed to maintain its lane.
It went off the east shoulder of Fairview at its intersection with Jack Neely Road, stuck a tree with its front bumper and caused it to catch on fire with the three trapped inside, a state patrol spokesperson said in September.
The victims were transported following the incident to the GBI Crime Lab in Decatur for identification purposes, the spokesperson said.
The sheriff’s office also conducted an internal investigation to see if the deputies followed the office’s policies on pursuits. That investigation is not complete, Jett said.