Originally created 11/18/99

Carjacking suspect has stand-off with police

WAYNESBORO -- A 19-year-old man held police and family members at bay for three hours in a Waynesboro neighborhood Wednesday, according to police, and they pleaded with him to put down a gun.

The man allegedly ran from officers trying to question him about a carjacking.

Charges were pending against Michael Cooper on Wednesday evening while he was being held at the Burke County jail. Police already had a warrant for his arrest in the carjacking, which happened in Waynesboro on Monday, officers said.

Thelma White fled her home with her two daughters when Mr. Cooper made his stand in her yard at 864 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, only a few blocks from Blakeney Elementary School, according to reports. Police cleared part of the block near the intersection with Bryant Street during the standoff, although a crowd of people from the neighborhood gathered to watch.

"Our goal was to end it with nobody injured, and that's exactly what happened, thank God," Waynesboro police Chief Karl Allen said.

Police and family members talked to Mr. Cooper for three hours, urging him to put down the gun, before he complied, according to police reports.

Officer Calvin Hill and Sgt. Larry Lariscey spotted Mr. Cooper on Ward Street at about 10 a.m., but he ran when they tried to question him, Chief Allen said, adding that they chased him for three blocks and ordered him to drop the gun. Police later discovered the gun was unloaded.

Although Mr. Cooper kept the gun during the standoff, he never pointed it at anyone, Chief Allen said.

Mrs. White, who said she recognized Mr. Cooper, tried to persuade him to put down the gun before she got her family out of the house, she said. A van from the county Emergency Management Agency later picked up the family, she said.

Mrs. White's 9-year-old grandson, who also lives at the home, was in school at the time.

"My mama looked out the window, and she was telling him not to shoot in the house, because her kids were in there," said 20-year-old Latasha Dukes, who was awakened by the noise outside and fled, still dressed in her nightgown and a robe, with the rest of her family. "I didn't think about nothing, I just left."

A carjacking victim accused Mr. Cooper of pulling a gun on him Monday after getting in his car on Pilgrim Way, then forcing him to drive into the country before making him get out, police said.

Police said Mr. Cooper lives near the neighborhood where the standoff happened, but they were unable to give an exact address.

Residents and police said the area had problems with drugs and crime in the past but had improved during the past two years, after residents decided to clean up the neighborhood. A police officer is also assigned to the neighborhood full time, Chief Allen said.

Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.


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