UPDATE (July 22, 11 p.m.): The suspects arrested in the chase and crash Thursday night have been identified by Conyers police.
The driver was Christopher Wayne Goff, 32, of Gilbert, South Carolina. He was released from the hospital and booked into the Rockdale County jail on Friday. He was charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault (on a police officer), driving with a suspended or revoked license, felony fleeing and attempt to elude a policy officer for a felony offense, possession of a schedule I controlled substance (liquid meth), receipt, possession or transfer of firearm by convicted felon or felony first offender, reckless driving, theft by receiving property stolen in another state – felony, theft by receiving stolen property – felony, willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence - felony.
The passenger was Jessica Nichole Johnson, 19, of Toledo, Ohio. She was caught and arrested Thursday night as she fled on foot from officers and booked into the Rockdale County jail. She is charged with fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer, possession of a schedule I controlled substance, reckless driving (being charged as a felony), theft by receiving property stolen in another state - felony, willful obstruction of law enforcement officers - misdemeanor, willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence - felony.
Officers did find a handgun that had been discarded in the field where Goff and Johnson ran through while they tried to escape officers. Methamphetamines were also found in the car, and investigators took out a search warrant on the motel room where the duo were staying.
(July 22, 1:55 a.m.) A routine traffic stop turned into a Dukes of Hazzard-style chase and crash Thursday evening when a white male suspect tried to escape police by cutting into the parking lot of Cracker Barrel in Conyers.
Around 10:20 p.m., Conyers Police Department officer John Bruce noticed a green 1999 GMC Jimmy driving slowly and suspiciously in front of him as they headed west on Dogwood Drive, according to CPD Capt. Mike Waters.
The officer ran the Georgia tag, which turned out to be stolen, and pulled over the vehicle just before the Parker Road overpass.
A white male driver and a white female passenger, both who appeared to be in their 30s, got out of the car and began running into the open field area behind the Stone Mountain Harley Davidson.
Officers were able to catch the female and put her under arrest.
“The male circled back, was able to get back in the vehicle and almost ran over a police officer as he sped away,” said Waters.
Police gave chase as the suspect and SUV headed east on Dogwood Drive. The driver rolled down the grass embankment into the parking lot shared by Bruster’s Ice Cream and the Jameson Inn.
“He didn’t strike any vehicles, didn’t strike any fixtures,” said Waters.
The SUV then took on the steep grass embankment between the Bruster’s and Cracker Barrel parking lots, which might work with stunt drivers on televison, but in real life was a little too much for the car to handle.
Resident Ed Tracey was having dinner with his wife on the patio of nearby Outback Steakhouse when they heard a commotion and saw patrol cars start coming from every direction.
“We heard a big explosion,” said Tracey. “A huge puff of smoke came up from the back of the Cracker Barrel building. I said I don’t know what’s going on. We thought it was a robbery. People were running out of the restaurant.”
The vehicle, which turned out to be stolen from South Carolina, had reportedly gone airborne when it launched off the grass embankment and came down on the nose of the car.
The driver was initially knocked out but did regain consciousness and was taken by ambulance to Atlanta Medical, said Waters. The extent of the injuries are not known at this time.
Waters said investigators are still determining the identities of the male and female suspect, who had multiple IDs with them. There was also reportedly evidence of drugs in the car.
Investigators are still determining what charges the suspects will face, besides obstruction.