3 smash-and-grab suspects killed while leading police on chase

3 smash-and-grab suspects killed while leading police on chase

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May 15, 2017: Three men were killed and another escaped and is on the run after a chase ended with a crash into a pond on Flint River Road. The two-county chase began when Fayetteville police received a 911 call from a Sprint company security guard about 4:20 a.m. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

It started out as a smash-and-grab burglary at a Fayette County cellphone store, according to police. And it ended minutes later in Clayton County when the suspects’ vehicle landed upside down in a pond, killing three of the four people inside.

Three men died Monday after being pulled from a private pond near the intersection of Flint River and Taylor roads, according to police. A fourth man, whose name was not released, managed to escape from the wreckage and remained on the run late Monday.

Newly-released dashcam video shows the high-speed, 5-mile chase.

The crime spree began around 4:20 a.m. when a security guard spotted three men burglarizing a Sprint store and yelled at them to leave, according to Capt. Mike Whitlow with Fayetteville police. Investigators believe a fourth man was acting as the getaway driver while three men were inside the store just a few seconds.

“They knew where they were going; they got what they wanted and fled the store,” Whitlow said.

An officer spotted the suspects’ vehicle and pursued it onto I-85 northbound, according to police. But the driver was able to elude police, including a Fayette County deputy.

“He tried to catch up to the vehicle and then actually shadow it until he could get some backup,” Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb said.

The suspects’ car narrowly missed another vehicle before crashing into another vehicle, according to police. Investigators temporarily lost sight of the suspects’ vehicle as it traveled into Clayton County. But approximately 14 minutes after causing a crash, the suspects’ vehicle was located.

“The vehicle was upside down and submerged down to its under carriage,” Clayton County Deputy Police Chief Joseph Woodall said.

Officers and paramedics attempted life-saving measures on the three men pulled from the vehicle, but all three died at the scene. Late Monday, the three who died were identified as Eddie Alford, 21, Devongelo Hunter, 19, and Mark Mathias, 19. Police identified the fourth man who escaped from the vehicle but declined to release his name.

Two of the three men killed had active criminal warrants in several jurisdictions, according to police. Hunter, who was jailed in October in Fulton County, was previously convicted of a felony, records showed.

The driver hit by the suspects was taken to the hospital for treatment, but his injuries were not life-threatening, according to police. No officers or deputies were injured.

The incident remained under investigation late Monday.

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