An officer with the Sumiton Police Department attempted to stop a minivan near the Jet-Pep in east Walker County. The driver of the van initially fled toward Birmingham on U.S. 78, but then suddenly turned and attempted to elude to the west, in the direction of Jasper.
Sumiton Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr said the suspect began driving erratically and at one point crossed the median and was going westbound in the eastbound lane of 78. Sumiton police radioed for backup were joined in the pursuit by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama State Troopers, the Dora Police Department and the Jasper Police Department.
At one point, county deputies attempted to deploy spike strips to stop the minivan, but the drivers avoided the strips and tried to run down a deputy, forcing another deputy to fire at the vehicle in an attempt to take the van off course and protect his partner.
The driver of the van then sped through the Jasper Raceway parking lot, almost hitting customers and gas pumps. A tire on the minivan was damaged when the suspect hit a curb at Raceway and the vehicle stopped a few hundred yards later on the side of Industrial Parkway.
The driver of the minivan, Kevin Ray Gardner, 33, of Oakman, was arrested on outstanding felony theft warrants and will also be charged with multiple counts of second-degree felony assault.
Jasper Police Lt. Justin Tidwell said Gardner’s felony warrants were in Jasper and he is being held at the Walker County Jail.
The driver and passengers will also be charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest and public intoxication. The passengers were Amy Michelle Glover, 30, of Jasper; Argil Clyde Bryant, 34, of Thach; and Jessie Leigh Elkins, 34, and Crystal Lane Tillman, 25, both of Sumiton.
There were no serious injuries as a result of the incident.
“Several officers’ lives were put on the line tonight to ensure the safety of the community,” Jasper Sgt. Jeremy Owens said. “This was a great example of several jurisdictions working together to get another dangerous subject off the street.”
Sumiton Police thanked the other agencies that assisted in the capture.
“We are glad this dangerous felon, who had no regard for the public’s safety, is off the streets and will not be allowed to hurt any citizen or family member this holiday season,” Karr said
Sheriff John Mark Tirey said other charges could be filed in the incident.
“We will be meeting with Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair to discuss the situation. More charges could be filed at that time,” Tirey said.