What appeared to be a common case of shoplifting led to a high-speed police chase from Wetumpka to Eclectic on June 5 and the arrests of two people, authorities said.
The driver of the car, Jahmari Rashard George, 27, of Montgomery was arrested and charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement and theft of property along with numerous traffic violations, according to the Wetumpka Police Department. He was being held in the Elmore County Jail as of June 6.
Passenger Calynthia Mitchell, 25, of Montgomery was arrested and charged with theft of property and was being held in the Millbrook Jail as of June 6 since she had an existing warrant there, according to the Wetumpka Police Department.
Two small children were in the car with George and Mitchell, according to Wetumpka police Det. Clarence Reid, who was involved in the chase.
Reid said the incident began about 12:45 p.m. after police got a call from the Wetumpka Walmart about a theft in progress.
“The subject had gone to the parking lot,” Reid said. “They also gave us a vehicle description. We had officers in the area and they saw the vehicle speeding through the parking lot going toward (U.S. Highway) 231. They made a right onto 231 going north at a high rate of speed. Officers got behind the car and activated the lights and siren but the driver refused to stop.”
Reid said he waited for George to reach him at the intersection of Highway 231 and South Main Street before joining in the pursuit.
“The driver continued going north running red lights and changing lanes without signaling,” Reid said. “I knew they were coming my way so I sat at the intersection and waited for them. I saw the vehicle weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed. He squeezed his way through vehicles and sideswiped a vehicle at the intersection.”
Reid said he got behind George, who reached speeds of 85 mph in an attempt to escape.
“He was driving recklessly the whole time,” Reid said. “He took a sharp right turn onto (Highway) 170 and there was heavy traffic there because of construction. He merged off onto (Highway) 14 heading toward Tallassee. He went through two construction zones at a high rate of speed with workers present. That was the most dangerous time, going through the construction zones with workers out there. It was like they didn’t have a care in the world.”
Reid said Elmore County sheriff’s deputies took the lead in the chase once George passed Firetower Road.
“They got him boxed in and stopped east of Linville Funeral Home,” Reid said. “We recovered six pieces of baby clothing items.”
Reid said potential shoplifters often underestimate security and surveillance in Walmart.
“They figured they could get away,” he said. “Walmart has been a place where people feel like they can come into Wetumpka and take from the store and go back where they came from. But they have very good surveillance not only in the store but in the parking lot. They can get a picture of your car and your tag.”