Originally created 07/19/00

Chase nets arrest in burglaries



A high-speed chase through south Augusta early Tuesday morning resulted in the arrest of the man wanted in a string of "smash and grab" burglaries Sunday and Monday.

John Lee Ward III, 33, of the 2500 block of Highway 88, was charged Tuesday with three counts of burglary and one count of theft by receiving.

Mr. Ward was taken into custody after leading police on a high-speed chase starting on Gordon Highway at about midnight at the Columbia County line, Investigator William McCarty said.

The chase ended on the eastbound ramp of Bobby Jones Expressway on Windsor Spring Road when the van Mr. Ward was driving struck another car, Investigator McCarty said.

A bulletin on the van, which was reported stolen in Hephzibah, had been released late Monday by the McDuffie County authorities for its involvement in a hit-and-run accident.

Mr. Ward and his passenger, Johnnie Sammons, were taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital with mild injuries, Investigator McCarty said. The woman driving the other car in the accident also was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

After collecting evidence in the van and interviewing the suspect at the hospital, investigators were able to tie Mr. Ward to the burglaries, Investigator McCarty said.

In two of the successful and one of the attempted burglaries from Sunday and Monday, a vehicle was driven through the front of a business to gain entry.

In addition to the burglary and theft charges, Mr. Ward faces several pending traffic charges from the Georgia State Patrol stemming from the chase, Investigator McCarty said.

No charges were being brought against Mr. Sammons, the investigator said.

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227.