Originally created 05/16/02

Across the area



Men rob hotel at gunpoint

Two men armed with a gun robbed the Master's Economy Inn on Washington Road early Wednesday, police said.

The incident occurred at 2:36 a.m. when the men - one of whom had a semiautomatic handgun - entered the lobby area of the hotel and demanded cash, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

After taking money from a cash register, the robbers were seen fleeing on foot toward Washington Road. One of the men is described as black, wearing a white T-shirt, dark pants, black boots and a dark ski mask. The other man was black and wearing blue jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt, according to the report.

Sheriff's Lt. Jimmy Young said the robbery doesn't appear to be related to others in the area.

Prison inmate sought after work-crew escape

Authorities are looking for an inmate from Johnson State Prison who walked off a work detail Wednesday afternoon.

Christopher Lamont Harris, 21, of Augusta, was part of a detail on Franklin Hayes Drive when he left at 12:52 p.m., said Scott Stallings, of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Mr. Harris was serving a five-year sentence at the prison for burglary and criminal damage to property, he said.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department, the Sandersville Police Department, the Georgia Department of Corrections Fugitive Team and the canine team from Dodge State Prison were called in to look for Mr. Harris, Mr. Stallings said.

It was not known whether Mr. Harris would come to Augusta, officials said. Mr. Stalling said the maximum penalty for escape is 10 years.

Mr. Harris is black, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds. He was wearing a white prison-issue uniform with blue stripes and the words "State Prison" on the back. Anyone with information about Mr. Harris' whereabouts is asked to call the Department of Corrections fugitive hot line at (800) 947-9792.

Van, SUV collide in downtown accident

Eastbound lanes in the 500 block of Greene Street downtown were closed for nearly an hour early Wednesday afternoon after a van and a sport utility vehicle collided, causing a Ford Explorer to flip onto its side.

Three fire trucks, two ambulances and several Richmond County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the accident.

Felicia Pride, the driver of the Explorer, suffered minor injuries, including a possible fractured hip, and was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital by ambulance, said Valerie Spratlin, spokeswoman for Rural/Metro Ambulance.

Ms. Pride, whom officers say is in her early 40s, was westbound on Greene Street when she crossed over eastbound lanes of traffic to turn left onto Fifth Street. A van, headed east on Greene, collided with the passenger-side door of the Explorer, causing it to turn over, said Deputy James Paugh, of the Richmond County road patrol.

Officers had to cut the roof off the Explorer to extract Ms. Pride, and when she was lifted from the vehicle, a crowd of more than 20 onlookers applauded. Ms. Pride will be charged with failure to yield while turning left, Deputy Paugh said.

Authorities seek man in armed-robbery case

Police are looking for Jesse Arnold Booth, nicknamed "Gator," in connection with the April 19 armed robbery at Cushman Arms Apartments in Aiken.

Mr. Arnold, 23, last lived in the 3000 block of Mississippi Ave., according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

Police say two men robbed another man of $50 at gunpoint in the apartment complex.

Mr. Arnold is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call public safety at (803) 642-7620 or Crime Stoppers at (866) 882-6463.

Teen-ager recovering after highway crash

The condition of a Thomson High School senior improved two days after he was involved in a car accident that killed a classmate.

John McCorkle, 18, was upgraded from serious to fair condition and was being kept for further treatment, Medical College of Georgia Hospital spokesman Steve Padgett said Wednesday.

On Monday, authorities said, Mr. McCorkle was driving a 1998 Buick with Justin Churchy 18, and Ryan Rodgers, 16, as passengers. The students were on their way to a computer class at the Augusta Technical College satellite campus in Thomson when the vehicle ran off the road and hit several trees. Ryan died from his injuries about an hour after the accident, said McDuffie County Coroner Donnie Crawford.

The accident report was completed Wednesday afternoon but a spokesman at the Georgia State Patrol post in Thomson said it has to be reviewed by a supervisor before the post could release it.

Service planned today to honor slain officers

A peace officers memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. today at Heroes Overlook.

During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed in honor of law enforcement officers who gave their lives in the service of their communities.

The ceremony will be at the site of the memorial to the first U.S. police officer killed in the line of duty. Robert Forsyth, a U.S. marshal in Augusta, was killed Jan. 11, 1794.

Planned Parenthood sets forum on teens

A teen pregnancy prevention forum is scheduled for 7 tonight at Augusta State University's Butler Hall, Room 7.

The forum, which was proposed by Planned Parenthood, will offer discussions on teen pregnancy in Richmond County, including the increase of public awareness, available services and strategies to reduce the number of teen pregnancies in the community.

The forum is open to the public. For more information, call 724-5550.

Man suffers burns while saving vehicle

A Grovetown man suffered first-degree burns in a fire Wednesday night at his home on Old Louisville Road.

Herman Smith was burned on his chest and arms while trying to drive his car out of a burning shed, said Jessica Horsley, of the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.

The fire started in the storage shed at 6:36 p.m. in the rear of Mr. Smith's property, she said.

The shed contained two trucks, another car, three tractors, several tools and gasoline cans - all of which were destroyed in the blaze, Ms. Horsley said.

The fire started near one of the trucks and took two hours to extinguish, she said.

There was no information Wednesday night on Mr. Smith's condition. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Ms. Horsley said.

Officers look into school-threat report

Columbia County authorities are investigating a complaint that an Evans man threatened pupils at an elementary school Wednesday afternoon.

Joyce G. Long, the principal of Blue Ridge Elementary School, told police that several pupils were approached by Daniel C. Leeds outside the school at 3:55 p.m., according to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office report. She said Mr. Leeds went onto school property waving a gun and threatening to unleash his dog to keep people off his property, the report states.

Mr. Leeds, 39, told police that he went to the school after several children tried to throw something into his pool.

He told police he doesn't own a gun but does have a red-and-black water pistol. No charges have been filed.