Police had received several reports of storage building break-ins over the course of a month. Officer Jonathon Fuller had been patrolling the Prior Station Rd. area when he saw a camouflage 1996 Toyota Tacoma pull out of a mini-warehouse facility. The policeman was suspicious as the Tacoma’s lights were off while it drove between two of the storage buildings.
The patrolman activated his lights and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The Tacoma driver, later identified as Thomas Nathan Smart, 22, and his passenger, Amy Vaughn Snider, 26, both from Piedmont, AL, accelerated, running a stop sign as he turned onto Adamson Road. Fuller chased Smart as he drove over 80-mph.
During the chase, the Tacoma backfired. Fuller reported that, initially, he thought the suspects were shooting at him. “It began to backfire repeatedly, at first making me believe there were gunshots coming from the vehicle, until I observed the sparks and small explosions coming from the rear exhaust.”
Fuller followed as the truck turned onto Potash Rd., driving in the opposing lane while being paced at over 75-mph. Officers Anthony Wood and Andy Shurley soon joined the pursuit as Smart drove through the intersection of Potash and Piedmont Hwy.
Smart pulled into a ditch off the shoulder of the road. Both suspects left the vehicle and ran into the woods. The policemen exited their patrol cars, continuing their pursuit on foot.
A short time later, Smart and Snider were apprehended and taken to the patrol cars for questioning.
The suspects told the arresting officers that they had been to the storage center earlier that day. Smart and his brother were said to have seen an open door before they left; the offender said that he later returned and loaded the items on his truck. When they saw Fuller’s car, they fled.
The officers searched the Tacoma, finding a pair of bolt cutters in the bed. They also found two pipes with a suspected methamphetamine residue, a bag of suspected meth and two pocketknives.
Later, police surveyed the crime scene, where they found that four storage units were missing locks and even parts of the doors. Fresh tracks were also discovered in the mud near the burglarized facilities. The prints were said to have matched the suspects’ shoes and tires.
Smart was arrested on charges of burglary/forcible entry, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, theft by taking, violating the Georgia Controlled Substance Act (VGCSA) by possessing methamphetamine, obstruction of an officer, interference with government property, reckless driving, fleeing/attempting to elude, speeding, and driving on the wrong side of the roadway.
Snider was charged with obstruction of an officer.