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Troopers shoot bus tires to stop fleeing suspect
Man accused of stealing several grills from Dollar General Market in Lyons
W Martin
Lewis Dean Martin

Georgia state troopers in Metter stopped a fleeing shoplifting suspect Wednesday by shooting out the tires of the school bus he was driving.

Toombs County sheriff's spokespersons told the Statesboro Herald on Wednesday evening that the driver's identity would not be released until Thursday morning, but Savannah TV station WTOC reported the man as being Lewis Dean Martin, 59, of Eustis, Florida.

Martin fled from Toombs County sheriff's deputies and Lyons police after being seen loading several grills from the Dollar General Market in Lyons into the bus, according to a post on the Toombs County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

The chase took pursuers into Candler County, where Georgia State Patrol Post 45 troopers and Candler County sheriff's deputies joined in. The pursuit ended after a trooper fired shots that took out at least three tires on the older model school bus that had been painted white, said Candler County Sheriff John Miles.

The driver fled at speeds sometimes as slow as 40 mph, crossing the median on Interstate 16 after leaving Highway 121. He crossed the median several times, changing directions and darting at other drivers, including troopers. He then returned to Highway 121 in Metter at least twice, according to reports aired over police radio.

He was finally captured back on Interstate 16 near the 104 mile marker.

The Toombs County sheriff's Facebook post said 911 dispatchers received a call around 2 p.m. Wednesday "from the Dollar General Market advising a male in a white bus had stolen several grills and headed out of town on Highway 152."

Martin refused to stop when deputies caught up with him and continued into Cobbtown, then to Metter and onto the interstate, the post stated.

The driver evaded officers' attempts to use stop sticks, but when a trooper found a safe opportunity to fire his weapon, he shot the bus tires out, forcing Martin to stop.

"He just wouldn't stop," said Georgia State Patrol Post 45 Commander Sgt. 1st Class Chris Rodewolt. "It is a miracle nobody got hurt. He showed no regard for anybody."

Martin was arrested and taken to the Toombs County Detention Center. Toombs County sheriff's staff told the Statesboro Herald that Martin's charges would not be released until Thursday, as the booking process and ongoing investigation continued into Wednesday evening.

Further information will be published in Friday's issue of the Statesboro Herald.


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



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