Tifton Gazette

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March 31, 2014

No one hurt in suspected arson

TIFTON — Local law enforcement responded to several incidents over the weekend, including arson.

According to an incident report filed at the Tifton Police Department, Sgt. Terry Allen reported Wednesday night that he responded to a residence located in the 600 block of Bellview Circle in reference to a structure fire. He said upon his arrival, he saw flames coming from the roof of the apartment. He made contact with the 25-year-old female victim.

The woman said she and her four children were able to get out of the residence. Allen then went to a neighbor’s apartment and assisted three adults and two small juveniles out of the residence. He and two other officers helped with evacuating other nearby apartments. He said they had residents move their vehicles to prevent damages and make room for the Tifton-Tift County Fire Department to work.

Allen reported that while on the scene, an officer received information that the fire had been intentionally set. The scene was turned over to a detective.

In another matter, Sgt. David Gay reported Friday night that he was notified by someone with the Tift County Sheriff’s Office who informed him that they were out with a burnt vehicle believed to be the stolen vehicle from another case.

A 58-year-old woman who lives in the 400 block of West 17th Street had reported Friday morning that she parked her vehicle, a 2010 Dodge Nitro SUV, in front of her house in the driveway the night before. She said when she came out of the house the next morning to leave, the vehicle was gone. She had told police that she had no idea who would have taken her vehicle. The report had stated that there was no glass on the ground where the vehicle was parked, and the victim advised she always locks her vehicle.

In Gay’s report, he said he responded to the area north of Mott-Litman Gym, Roswell Drive and Highland Avenue. The burnt vehicle was in the back of the woods by the railroad tracks. It was completely destroyed.

Gay reported that a deputy handed him a Tift County tag receipt with a vin matching the vin listed for the vehicle that had been reported stolen by the 58-year-old woman. The tag receipt was located approximately 60 yards north of the burnt vehicle, lying in the wet grass. The paperwork was soaked from the rain.

The vehicle was towed to the city impound. The deputy told Gay that the sheriff’s office received the call at 10:40 p.m. Gay reported that the car appeared to have been intentionally burned. There were burnt boards under the rear driver’s side, under the gas tank area.

Also, a woman who lives in the 500 block of East 18th Street reported Friday that another woman arrived at her house to talk to her child’s father. She said when the offender parked in front of the residence, she started cursing at her and said, “I will kill your (expletive)!”

The woman said the offender then exited her vehicle with a machete, waving it over her head and yelling, “I will kill you, (expletive)!” She began calling 911 and the offender left the scene toward Davis Avenue.

Sgt. Jody Abad reported that while en route to the call, E-911 advised that the offender wanted to make contact with him. On arrival, he asked the offender if she had a machete and she said no. She gave him consent to search her vehicle. Abad reported that no weapon was found in the vehicle.

In other unrelated cases:

• There were recent reports of property being damaged by bullet holes in the area. A woman who lives in the 300 block of Old Omega Road reported Thursday morning that sometime during the night, she heard several gunshots near her apartment. When she went outside the next morning, she noticed that her vehicle had bullet holes. There was a bullet hole in the driver’s side window, rear window, rear quarter panel and an exit hole on the passenger front window. Officers attempted to locate the bullets with negative results. Further investigation revealed that 911 dispatch received a call in reference to shots being fired in the area the night before.

Another female resident on Old Omega Road reported Thursday morning that she heard several gunshots outside her residence the night before. She said after hearing the shots, her mother went into the bedroom and removed her daughter. They then all got on the floor. The woman reported that they noticed a bullet hole in the bedroom window located on the south side of the residence. It went through the window and was lodged in the wall on the east side of the bedroom.

A man who lives in the 1500 block of South Central Avenue reported early Saturday morning that he went outside to find multiple bullet holes in his vehicle and utility trailer. He said he heard gunshots prior to checking his property. The report states that someone reported gunshots being fired in the same area earlier that day.

The man said around noon the day before, he was traveling on Elm Street near the area of Elm Street Mart when a male subject shot his vehicle in the tailgate and also shot his utility trailer in the rear. The vehicle displayed two bullet holes to the front windshield, two exit holes to the rear windshield, a bullet hole to the front bumper and two bullet holes to the front of his utility trailer that appeared to be exit holes from the front windshield. The vehicle also displayed two bullet holes to the front of the vehicle’s hood area and a bullet hole to the driver’s side quarter panel.

• Officer Jacob Johnson reported Thursday night that he was sent to a residence located in the 900 block of South Central Avenue in reference to an unwanted person. Upon arrival, he said a woman reported that Samuel David Anderson, 36, of Tifton, was intoxicated and trying to provoke a fight. Johnson said he saw that Anderson was very unsteady on his feet, his speech was slurred and he was able to detect a strong scent of alcohol coming from his person. Johnson said he asked Anderson if he had somewhere else to stay for the night and he replied that he would go down the street to someone’s house.

Johnson left the residence and circled the area where he saw Anderson unsteadily standing about a block or two from the residence. He pulled beside him and without saying anything to him, Anderson said, “If I can get some better shoes, I will go with you to jail because I am too drunk. I am not going to lie.” He then tried to get into the back of Johnson’s patrol vehicle without any assistance. Johnson got out and let Anderson get some different shoes from his residence before placing him in handcuffs. Anderson was charged with public intoxication.

• A deputy reported March 14 that while on patrol and checking property, he located a suspicious silver 2001 Ford Expedition parked in the middle of Branch Road at the intersection of Wiley Branch Road with its lights off. The report states that the driver, Kelly L. Helwig, 42, of Tifton, was subsequently arrested and charged with an open container violation. She was released on a copy of the citation. The vehicle was turned over to her husband.

• A Tift County High School student was arrested Friday for possession of marijuana. The report states that a school employee reported that 17-year-old Hampton Stewart Riddle came to ISS pretending to deliver some keys to another student. He said Riddle pulled something out of one of his pants pocket and looked like he handed it to the other student. He then pretended to give the student some keys from his other pocket. When he was searched, school officials found a small baggy of marijuana in a jewelry box. It was in Riddle’s bookbag in a side pocket. The other student was searched, but he didn’t have anything on his person or in his bookbag. The report states that when Riddle was being read his Miranda Rights, he refused to talk to law enforcement. He was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana (less than one ounce).

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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