Local and state law enforcement authorities worked together Wednesday morning and eventually found a suspect wanted on charges of entering autos following an intensified manhunt in Milledgeville.
At the time the suspect was found, he was in the possession of a loaded 9 mm pistol that he reportedly stole earlier from an unlocked car, according to Maj. Linc Boyer of the Milledgeville Police Department.
Authorities were aided in their search for the suspect by a drone as well as a tracking dog from the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Boyer, commander of the police department’s road patrol division, identified the suspect as Omari Trezion Merriweather, 19, of Warren Chapple Road, Sparta.
The suspect, who was taken into custody without incident, was later charged with the following offenses: three counts of entering an auto, two counts of financial transaction card theft, giving law enforcement authorities a false name and date of birth, and two counts of misdemeanor obstruction of law enforcement officers.
The man was later taken to the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center and jailed on those charges.
Boyer told The Union-Recorder it all began with a call from a person whose car had been broken into and items stolen from it at Rocky Creek Apartments on East Thomas Street. The call to police was made at 6:50 a.m.
“One of the victims saw a subject entering the cars in the parking lot and called 911,” Boyer said.
A short time later, Milledgeville Police Officer John Childress arrived at the apartment complex. The officer later learned the suspect had hidden behind a nearby dumpster before he arrived.
Boyer said Childress worked to establish a description of the suspect.
Meanwhile, other police officers, as well as a couple of deputies with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, began arriving at the apartment complex to render assistance.
“While Officer Childress was talking to the victims, he found out that one of the cars was missing a handgun, and obviously that changed things a little bit for everybody there,” Boyer said.
Shortly before 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the suspect was spotted near Hood’s Automotive off North Jefferson Street. Boyer said Childress and Officer Lane Altman saw the suspect go behind the business.
“They encountered him in the wood line near a creek, where they drew down on him and gave him verbal commands to get on the ground,” Boyer said. “He did not comply.”
Instead the suspect took off running, and police officers chased after him on foot. Additional law enforcement officers began arriving on the scene at that point, including several detectives from the local police department.
“We also deployed our drone after a perimeter was set up around the area of where the suspect had last been seen,” Boyer said.
The drone was operated by Sgt. Thomas Smith.
Boyer said the thick wooded area hampered law enforcement officers.
“It also made it difficult for the drone to pick up images,” he said.
Boyer said K-9 Officer Anna Decker and her dog, “Jojo” were called to the scene from the Georgia Department of Corrections at Baldwin State Prison.
“We felt certain by that time that the subject we were looking for had bedded down somewhere in the wooded area,” Boyer said.
The dog tracked to a nearby house where authorities searched without success. The dog and fellow officers later searched a nearby unoccupied house, where they discovered the suspect hiding underneath it, Boyer said.
“He had a bag on him and inside it, officers located the loaded gun, some stolen credit cards, etc,” Boyer said.
Several items that had previously been stolen from vehicles were found, one of which was a laptop computer.
Boyer said he appreciated the assistance of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Georgia Department of Corrections K-9 team.
“Everybody worked very well together,” Boyer said. “It was definitely a team effort.”