Area briefs

Man charged with sex crime misses hearing

Police are seeking a Grovetown man who they say missed a sentencing hearing Thursday in a Columbia County court.

Adam Spann Blackstone, 32, of the 900 block of Carlene Drive, is charged with a sex crime and failed to appear for his sentencing, according to an e-mail from Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Authorities describe Mr. Blackstone as a white man, 5-feet 10-inches tall, 155 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call the sheriff's office at (706) 541-2800.

Teen accused of rape will stay in custody

A 16-year-old boy accused of raping a disabled woman must await possible indictment and trial in custody, a judge ruled Thursday.

Richmond County sheriff's investigators arrested Michael A. Hawes last month. He initially denied any contact with the 54-year-old woman, then told officers no force was involved in the sexual act, said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Johnston.

The juvenile will be prosecuted in Richmond County Superior Court as an adult if indicted. He is accused of raping a mute woman who also suffers from paralyses, Mr. Johnston said.

Anonymous tip leads to bomb threat arrest

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office made a third arrest Thursday in the string of bomb threats that have disrupted Glenn Hills Middle School.

The 14-year-old pupil is accused of calling in threats in mid-January, sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles stated in an e-mail. Acting on an anonymous tip, officers were able to link the juvenile to three calls on two days, which required evacuation of the middle school. The juvenile is being detained at the regional youth detention center.

Resident is charged in apartment shooting

An Augusta man remained in jail Thursday evening after a shootout at an east Augusta apartment complex.

Warren Mayo, 42, of Reiser Court, faces two counts of reckless conduct in the Thursday morning shooting at Underwood Homes off Sand Bar Ferry Road. At 11 a.m., police were called to Mr. Mayo's residence after receiving reports about gunshots, Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Cory Carlyle said.

Three men approached Mr. Mayo's residence and started firing into his home, police said. Mr. Mayo then returned fire and bullets struck two uninvolved apartments, Investigator Carlyle said. One of the apartments was inhabited. No injuries were reported, he said. Mr. Mayo told police one of the men who approached his home owed him $40.

He was charged because he is accused of striking two houses with gunfire.

More arrests are pending, the investigator said.

Gold Cross/Air Med closer to expansion

Gold Cross/AirMed might soon expand its helicopter rescue operation in Columbia County.

During a Thursday night meeting, the county's planning commission approved the rezoning of about 4 acres on Wheeler Road from light industrial to special. However, complaints about noise and safety from surrounding property owners prompted planning commissioners to place caveats on their recommendation -- the Federal Aviation Administration must approve the site; Gold Cross/AirMed must agree to use Wheeler Road for approaches and departures from the site; the company must agree to build a fence around the property to limit wind shear from the propeller; and they must provide a log of their flight take-off and landing times for the past 60 days.

Gold Cross/AirMed Chief Executive Officer Tom Schneider said he will use the property at 4328 Wheeler Road for some office operations and as a landing zone for at least one of the company's two helicopters. Currently, both helicopters operate from a site at Doctors Hospital. The move won't dramatically increase response times to emergencies, Mr. Schneider said, adding the business is simply outgrowing its space on Medical Center Drive.

The Wheeler Road location is in an industrial zone, and county officials said the noise from a helicopter shouldn't add to the area's existing noise. The issue will now go before the Columbia County Commission on Feb. 19.

-- From staff reports