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Chance encounter leads to arrests in Candler burglary
Deputies and suspects clash at Metter Waffle House
Josh Stephens and Kenneth Blake Hinson
Josh Stephens, left, and Kenneth Blake Hinson (Candler County Sheriff's Office)

Hungry burglary suspects found more than food Sunday night at the Waffle House in Metter — they also ran into sheriff’s deputies who were looking for them.

Candler County sheriff’s deputies Rhett Kelley and Corey Glisson had just left the scene of a burglary at a BP gas station in Aline just after midnight Sunday and decided to stop at the Waffle House to eat, said Candler County sheriff’s Capt. Justin Wells.

While inside, they noticed two men walk in who matched the descriptions of the burglary suspects who had been caught on store surveillance cameras. 

When the deputies approached the men, they fled, but one was soon captured after a brief chase, he said.

The other man fled in a vehicle, but a call came in minutes later from Jay’s Truck Stop, where witnesses recognized the suspect as one of the ones wanted in the burglary, he said.

Candler County sheriff’s deputies Gatlin Holloway and Ashleigh Taylor responded to the call, and the suspect fled again.

A high-speed chase led deputies into Bulloch County, where they were assisted by Georgia State Patrol troopers and Bulloch County sheriff’s deputies. 

State troopers performed a PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver to stop the driver, identified as Josh Stephens of Jacksonville, Florida, on Highway 67 at Interstate 16, according to reports. A Bulloch County sheriff’s deputy also assisted.

Stephens, 29, is charged with second-degree burglary and fleeing/attempt to elude. More charges may be pending in Bulloch County, Wells said.

The suspect arrested near the Waffle House, Kenneth Blake Hinson, 22, also of Jacksonville, was charged with second-degree burglary and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Both suspects were taken to the Candler County Jail where they remain without bond, awaiting further court hearings.

The case is still under investigation, Wells said. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact him at (912) 685-2568.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.

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