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Manhunt leads to four suspects being held in connection with break-in and shots being fired at K-9 police officer

THOMSON - A four-hour intensified manhunt by ground and air that began late Tuesday and ended early Wednesday yielded three suspects wanted for burglary and for firing shots at a Thomson police K-9 officer and his dog.

A fourth suspect, who had been sought, turned himself in to local authorities on Wednesday night, according to McDuffie County Sheriff's Department Major Ronnie Williamson.

The officer who was shot at in his patrol vehicle was identified as Sgt. John James, who happened to be nearby as a home was being burglarized in a subdivision in the 1200 block of Huntley Circle. Sgt. James and his dog, Eba, escaped injury, after six to seven shots from a handgun were fired in their direction.

Two men and a 17-year-old teenager were taken into custody by authorities during the manhunt.

One of the men, according to jail records, is identified as Deyonta Demont Wilson, 26, of the 100 block of Fabius Street, Thomson. Mr. Wilson has been charged with one count of burglary and one count of entering an auto. The other two suspects, who have not yet been identified by authorities, were being held for investigative hold purposes, records show.

All four of the suspects are being held in the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center.

Contacted at his office on Thursday morning, Thomson Police Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle said he was involved in drawing up warrants. He also indicated that he was busy attempting to put more pieces of the case together.

He had planned a news conference for Wednesday, but because the case still was unfolding, it had to be postponed. The investigator said additional information about the case may be released later Thursday.

Immediately after Sgt. James reported that he was being fired upon, he received backup from Thomson Assistant Chief Jerry Stamphill, as well as Officers Marquis Murray, Alston Brassell and Lt. Whittle. McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall, along with Deputies Alan Baldwin, Kalvin Johnson and Robert Hoffman also arrived to assist.

The four suspects last were seen running into a field and wooded area in the rear of a home off Old Washington Road.

A perimeter was established along Old Washington, Cobbham, Ferris and Harrison roads in an attempt to catch the suspects. One of the suspects was chased out of the woods by the police dog. He ran from behind the Southern Pipe & Supply Company before running across Cobbham and Harrison roads in an attempt to flee from lawmen who gave chase.

Officer Brassell who received assistance from Deputy Hoffman took him into custody as he was trying to jump a fence.

Deputy Baldwin later arrested a second suspect, while a third man was taken into custody before the manhunt ended at 2:15 a.m.

A helicopter from the Georgia State Patrol Aviation Division, as well as several troopers in cars joined in the manhunt, as did deputies from the Warren and Columbia county sheriff's departments.

Web posted on Thursday, February 12, 2009

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