Two drug suspects identified, one still at large

Authorities on the hunt for Brandon Reese, 26

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.com, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 9, 2013 

Authorities have identified two suspects charged after a white Mercedes hit two narcotics agents Wednesday at the Liberty gas station on Macon Road.

They were identified as Darius Upshaw, 26, and Daniel Gaines, 20, both of Columbus. Upshaw, the driver of the car at the time the agents were struck, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer in striking agents Lauren Stinson, 29, and Jonathan Memmo, 50.

During a 2 p.m. hearing, Memmo told the court that Upshaw purposefully put the car in drive and hit Memmo's vehicle, then backed up and struck Stinson's leg. Stinson also received arm injuries from being knocked to the ground by the force of the car. Memmo also said that while searching the vehicle officers found a marijuana cigarette and a bag of cocaine in the backseat.

Upshaw faces additional charges for possession of cocaine and marijuana. He is being held in the Muscogee County Jail with a bail of about $25,000.

Gaines faces charges of failing to exhibit a license and one count each of possession of cocaine and marijuana. He was released on bond from the jail, an official said today.

A search continues for a third suspect, Brandon Reese, who ran south from the 4206 Macon Road service station. Agents assumed he ran back to where he’d been living at 4315 Yates Drive, so they blocked the street and sent robots into the house.

No one was home, so officers searched the residence, finding drugs and weapons, including an AK-47 rifle, they said.

Reese drove to the gas station. Having just bought gas, Reese was walking out of the store when Metro Narcotics officers in two vehicles blocked the car he’d been driving.

Seeing the agents, Reese turned and ran, investigators said. A front-seat passenger in the Mercedes got into the driver’s seat, accelerated head-on into a police vehicle, then shifted into reverse, spinning backward and crashing into a post at the gas pumps, police said.

In this maneuver the car hit Stinson, who fired at the driver, but did not hit him, they said. Memmo was also struck but wasn't injured.

Agents arrested the two suspects in the car and then surrounded the Yates Drive house where Reese had been living.

They secured and searched the house upon determining Reese, 26, was not inside, said sheriff's Maj. Randy Robertson.

He said Stinson's shot at the white Mercedes apparently struck no one. The car hit the deputy in the leg, causing scrapes and cuts.

Agents had followed the car to the gas station from Reese's residence because they had the house under surveillance, and recognized the three suspects in the car, Robertson said.

Officers searching Reese’s home found "a lot" of marijuana and multiple weapons, including the AK-47, said Sheriff John Darr.

Robertson estimated it took officers four hours to ensure the house was safe to enter. The initial confrontation at the gas station was around 4 p.m.

Neighbors at the scene said the house was sold a few months ago, and since then traffic there has increased significantly.

Among the witnesses to Wednesday's incident was Liberty gas station owner Dhiren Lakdawala, who said one of the three men who came to to buy gas had just left the store when the confrontation occurred. Lakdawala saw the car hit Stinson as she fired her gun. "It all happened very fast," he said.

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