As speeds reached in excess of 100 mph, Rincon Police Chief Mike Bohannon said his training took over.
Bohannon used what is known as a pit maneuver to stop a fleeing suspect’s car and end a 12-minute chase that started in Rincon and ended in Savannah early Wednesday afternoon.
The high-speed pursuit, which also involved units from Port Wentworth, Garden City and Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan police departments, began when Rincon officers performed a traffic stop on a red Cadillac on Highway 21 at Towne Park Drive.
Cpl. Jose Ramirez approached the vehicle and spotted a gun. At that moment, the suspects — Lorenzo Lazant Hall, 34, Devante Hall, 19, and Terry Bernard Bell Jr., 29, took off and initiated the chase.
“They were in an area where we have had some robberies,” Bohannon said. “When Ramirez went to approach the car, he saw a gun.”
Ramirez and another Rincon Police officer began the pursuit and radioed for assistance. Port Wentworth units joined the chase and one Port Wentworth officer attempted a pit move of his own. But the Cadillac’s driver slammed into the front quarter panel of the Port Wentworth officer’s patrol car, collapsing the quarter panel onto the tire and leading to a blowout.
Bohannon, on his way back to Rincon from a meeting, took the lead in the chase as the suspects neared the Port Wentworth-Garden City boundary. The suspects continued down Highway 21 at more than 100 mph, eventually turning off at Highway 80 and then peeling off again down Augusta Avenue.
“My thought is, ‘there’s a gun involved. Have they shot someone? Is there an armed robbery we don’t know about?’” Bohannon said. “That’s why we were continuing the pursuit.”
Bohannon tried to set up for a pit maneuver in Garden City but the suspect slammed on his brakes and Bohannon, mindful that he may become a target, shot past him before hitting his brakes.
As the chase turned onto Augusta Avenue, two shots were fired at Bohannon’s car.
“Jose was on the radio saying, ‘he’s firing at you,’” Bohannon said.
Through a narrow residential street, Bohannon eventually spied a vacant lot.
“When I saw the open field, this was my chance to pit him,” he said.
Bohannon drove the front of his car into the fleeding red Cadillac, sending it spinning off the street and into the open field, away from homes, vehicles and residents.
One of the suspects, Lorenzo Hall, got out and ran, but officers quickly descended on the car and arrested the other two occupants. Authorities caught up to Hall soon after as he was trying to break into a home.
Police from Rincon, Port Wentworth, Garden City and SCMPD and deputies from Effingham and Chatham Counties converged on the area. Chatham deputies were requested to search for the gun believed dropped between the crash scene and Eagle Street.
Lorenzo Hall and Devante Hall, both of Savannah, and Bell, of Rincon, were taken to Effingham County Jail. They face charges of felony fleeing and eluding, aggravated assault and reckless driving.
“We’re continuing to investigate them for other potential crimes,” Bohannon said.