An armed Marine who was reportedly going hunting with a female friend led state troopers and sheriff's deputies on a wild chase early Thursday morning, cutting through cotton fields and switching trucks before hiding in the woods with a .270 rifle.
After hours of pursuit, the man, Charles Edward Nelson, 23, Marsham Drive, hid in the woods and didn't come out until a negotiator, also a former Marine, persuaded him to give himself up, said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kirk McGlamery.
Nelson was driving a black truck, with a female passenger, reportedly "going hunting" when GSP Trooper First-Class Brian Scott clocked him on Harville Road at around 96 miles per hour, McGlamery said.
Scott switched on his blue lights and gave pursuit, trying to pull Nelson over, but Nelson refused, taking Scott on a wild chase down dirt roads near the Clifton Road area. Scott and other troopers and responding Bulloch County Sheriff deputies pursued Nelson through cotton fields and private property, but eventually abandoned the chase due to danger - "dusty conditions and the violator's reckless driving," said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson.
McGlamery said Nelson dropped the woman with him off in a cotton field at some point during the chase. She called a former Bulloch County Sheriff's deputy that she knows, seeking help because she is not from the area and had no idea where she was, he said.
The former deputy contacted Bulloch County authorities, and Scott was able to learn Nelson's identity. That factored into the decision to abandon the chase as well, considering the danger, he said.
Nelson went to a friend's home on Tiffany Court and switched trucks, driving a red pickup to return for his passenger, he said. Troopers located Nelson again around 10 a.m. Thursday, and gave chase once again, Anderson said.
"A short pursuit ensued, at the conclusion of which Nelson fled on foot ... in the area of Tiffany Court in the Meadow Lakes subdivision," he said. "Nelson took with him a .270 rifle and ammunition."
Investigators learned Nelson had served in the United States Marine Corps in Iraq, he said. McGlamery said Nelson later expressed agitation over the fact that he wanted to be deployed again, but certain factors prevented his deployment because his particular training was not needed at the time.
Nelson's behavior concerned law enforcement, especially since he was armed. "Nelson's actions ... combined with his possession of a weapon in a residential area, led troopers and deputies to conduct an intensive search of the area," Anderson said. "Georgia State Patrol's aviation unit (helicopter) also responded to assist in the search."
Cpl. Rusty Rankin, a former Marine Corp veteran, was able to reach Nelson by cell phone, and "after an extensive negotiation ... was able to convince Nelson to surrender peacefully," he said. "Nelson gave troopers and deputies his location, and was taken into custody a short distance from where he abandoned his truck."
Nelson is charged with two counts of speeding, two counts of reckless driving, two counts of fleeing and attempt to elude; criminal trespass and window tint violation. Further charges are possible, McGlamery said.
He was taken to the Bulloch County Jail, where he is being held without bond, according to jail records.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.