Two charged after fleeing, firing at police

Published 7:51 am Saturday, January 24, 2009

FRANKLIN—Two men led police on a high-speed chase through Franklin on Friday afternoon before crashing their vehicle into a home.

Police arrested the two men but have not linked them to the shooting death of Franklin resident Brad Harris, 27, hours earlier in the same neighborhood. Police did say that the same sport utility vehicle involved in the chase was observed at the South High Street home where the homicide occurred.

The vehicle was also coincidentally observed and photographed by The Tidewater News shortly after police arrived to investigate the Harris slaying.

Lt. Tim Whitt of the Franklin Police Department said the two men are charged with attempted aggravated malicious wounding of a police officer, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and felony eluding police.

Neither man was identified. Whitt said one of the men was being uncooperative and was giving investigators a fake name.

At 2:30 p.m., officers responded to a call from a citizen who observed two suspicious men getting into a vehicle at South and Hall streets.

Upon seeing police officers, the two men attempted to outrun law enforcement in a high-speed chase through the streets of Franklin.

Whitt said the suspects drove from Hall Street to Cool Springs to Holly to Railroad to Bogart before ending at High Street and Second Avenue.

During the chase, the suspects fired a gun in the direction of the pursuing police cars. No one was injured.

The chase culminated on South High Street when a passenger jumped out of the moving SUV and ran into a home at 104 S. High St., located close to the railroad tracks.

Officers reacted quickly by stopping a train that was passing through the city and shutting down all surrounding streets while the search for the passenger ensued.

The driver of the SUV kept going and attempted to make a left turn onto Second Avenue.

Instead, the vehicle crashed into a home at 201 N. High St.

Betty Tarkington, who lives at the residence where the SUV crashed, had just backed out of her driveway to head back to her job at City Hall.

“I heard the tires squeal and I saw the police officer right behind him, so I knew something was wrong,” she said.

Tarkington said she was not afraid when she saw the car crash.

“It all happened so quickly,” she said.

Tarkington said she “moved to Franklin eight years ago with my husband because it was quiet, and then this happened.”

Her home is still livable. “They have condemned the porch, but the rest of the house is fine,” she said.