Man arrested in police pursuit, crash

A Martinez man who led police on a car pursuit Thursday night was arrested after crashing his vehicle in downtown Augusta.

Javonist Lavert Gant, 21, was arrested after he escaped from his 2004 Suzuki Forenza, which had flipped at Seventh and Broad streets, according to a statement released by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

A passenger, Jewel Sturgis, 17, of Augusta, ran from the vehicle after the crash and was found by emergency workers lying on the sidewalk in the middle of the 700 block of Broad Street. She was treated for leg pain.

Richmond County dispatchers were notified of the chase about 10:35 p.m. after Gant ran a red light at 15th Street and Walton Way, according to authorities.

Gant continued to drive his Suzuki, initially reported by deputies as a Ford Focus, south on 15th Street to 15th Avenue and into Dogwood Terrace. The deputy pursuing Gant lost sight of the vehicle, but officers in the area of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Olive Road saw the car turn on to King, traveling north.

About 10 minutes after the pursuit began, Gant ran the red light at Broad and Seventh streets and was hit on the driver’s side by a Nissan Maxima traveling on Broad toward Seventh, police said. Gant’s car flipped and landed on its hood in front of the Wells Fargo building on Seventh Street.

The driver and passenger in the Nissan complained of minor injuries.

Gant, who refused medical treatment, was taken to a hospital and has not yet been booked in the Richmond County jail, said sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew.

He faces charges of failing to obey a red light, reckless driving and fleeing to elude.

Gant was a suspect in the June 22, 2011, armed robbery of Belair Package Shop at 3983 Wrightsboro Road. According to a Richmond County incident report, Gant and another man were accused of robbing a store employee at gunpoint and leading deputies on a car chase into Columbia County.

The employee told authorities that a man wearing a black rag over his face and white gloves ordered him to stay behind the counter while pointing a large semi-automatic handgun at him. The robber saw something move outside and ran away without taking anything.

A black Dodge Intrepid, occupied by Gant and Anthony David Callahan, was identified as the getaway car and passed deputies on Wrightsboro Road at high speed.

The vehicle was stopped by Columbia County authorities, who arrested the men.

In Thursday night’s pursuit, deputies told dispatchers that Gant was traveling about 90 mph.

Witness Reggie Watson was standing at the Broad and Seventh streets intersection when Gant’s car sped past him and hit the Maxima.

“Dude was just coming so fast,” said Watson, who was trying to cross the street until he saw the red Suzuki and police cars approaching it.

Watson said the driver of the wrecked vehicle jumped out and tried to run, but was stopped by a police stun gun. Chew disputed that account and said Gant was not stunned.

Firefighters were called to the scene for a gas leak caused by the wreck.

Staff Writer Bianca Cain Johnson contributed to this article.

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