Deputy: Chase led by burglary suspects reached 135 mph

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.com, benw@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 3, 2013 

Montracious Harris

Nearly two dozen charges have been filed after an alleged Smiths Station burglar led law enforcement on a chase that crossed state lines, topped 100 mph speeds and lasted more than 20 miles Tuesday.

Montracious Harris, 20, giggled before Judge Michael Cielinski after officers finished describing his numerous traffic charges.

That list includes attempting to flee, bringing a stolen item into the state, theft by receiving, carrying a weapon without a license, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, three counts of speeding, failing to report striking a fixed object, passing improperly, four counts of failure to obey traffic controllers and aggressive driving.

Additionally, he was charged with failing to maintain his lane, obey a stop sign and wear a seat belt.

A Lee County Sheriff's deputy and Columbus Police Department officer described the chase, which started with Smiths Station burglary at about 3:13 p.m., and ended when Harris wrecked the black Honda into a brick retaining wall on Gleason Avenue.

It began after a resident on Lee Road 959 in Smiths Station said two men in a black Honda — one suspected to be Harris — kicked in the door of a home and took property from it. A deputy found a car matching the description of the Honda, but the car fled after the deputy attempted to stop it.

From there, the two men led deputies on a high speed race that at one point reached speeds of 135 mph. Harris and the other suspect led officers into Columbus using U.S. 280 and U.S. 80, raced down J.R. Allen Parkway and then through a series of streets until the car wrecked into the brick wall, causing $500 worth of damage.

Before the Honda could crash into the retaining wall, the suspects jumped out and attempted to sprint away.

“Both occupants bailed out of the vehicle and attempted to flee,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said in an earlier interview. “The passenger gets away, but the driver was apprehended by the deputy.”

Law enforcement found a Glock pistol, binoculars and a camera on Harris after they tackled him. The binoculars and camera had been reported as stolen in Phenix City, which lead to the bringing stolen items across state lines charge.

Jones said a television was hurled from the vehicle during the chase, but it was not from the home where a neighbor saw men leave with property. Authorities believe there may be more than one burglary involved in the investigation.

During the pursuit, officers also recorded Harris and the other suspect driving at miles exceeding 65 mph through two school zones.

Harris drew admonishment from Cielinski during his Recorder's Court hearing Wednesday after he laughed in initial response to the judge's request for a statement. He later would only say that Lee County deputies could not prove it was him driving the car.

"I don't know why you think this is funny," Cielinski said. "I don't know why you think you have to go that fast."

Harris' bond was set at $40,550. His case will be forwarded to Muscogee County Superior Court. Harris will also face charges from Alabama in connection with the burglary in Smiths Station.

The high-speed chase was the second since Saturday for Lee County deputies. The driver of a Hummer was suspected in a burglary under similar circumstances before the vehicle he was driving crashed in Columbus, Jones said.

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