CARTERS VALLEY COMMUNITY — Two men were arrested last week and face charges in Scott Co., Virginia, with one of the two facing Hawkins Co., Tenn., charges, after an early-morning, high-speed pursuit involving a stolen vehicle.
Hawkins Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Will Mullins said in his report that about 3:47 a.m., on Jan. 13, 2020, he was patrolling the Carter’s Valley community due to recent reports of stolen vehicles and auto burglaries in the area.
Mullins said that he had received information that the subjects involved might still be driving a maroon Buick Encore.
“As I was coming out of the Hickory Hills subdivision, I observed a car and golf cart sitting next to one another at the Promise Church parking lot,” he said.
As he got closer, the deputy noticed that the vehicle matched the description of the stolen Encore. When he turned in behind the vehicle, the tag was a match for that on the stolen Buick.
“The vehicle immediately took off and went north on Hickory Hills Road,” Mullins said. The deputy activated his blue lights and siren but the Encore failed to stop and sped through the subdivision at speeds as high as 51 miles per hour.
The vehicle turned north onto Morning Star Road and then east on Shipley Road, still traveling at a high rate of speed.
The driver then turned onto Mount Pleasant Road for about a mile before turning east onto Stanley Valley Road, and into Virginia, Mullins said.
Central Dispatch advised the deputy that the Scott Co. Sheriff’s Department was standing by at Vicar’s Chapel Church and were ready to deploy “spike strips” in an attempt to stop the vehicle.
At that time, Mullins said he backed off the chase and again got behind the vehicle after the spike strips were deployed, following it north onto Frisco Yard Road where the Encore’s speed was slowing due to three flat tires.
By that time Scott County authorities and Mount Carmel Police Department’s Chad Britton had joined the pursuit.
As the chase approached Haynes Valley Road, Mullins got on his public address speaker and gave orders for the driver to pull over and “show me his hands”.
Mullins said he saw two female passengers, both on the passenger side of the Encore, put their hands up and out of the window, “as if they were giving up”.
“I saw the driver’s side rear door of the vehicle open and papers and items were being tossed out of the vehicle,” Mullins’ report continues.
“The pursuit was still at low speeds but I was attempting to keep a safe distance due to information one of the subjects in the vehicle had possibly fired shots at a vehicle in the same area we were in now during the pursuit,” Mullins stated.
Later, MCPD Officer Britton returned to the scene where the items were being tossed from the vehicle and found a Kel-Tec .32-caliber gun, believed to have been stolen in an auto burglary in Church Hill, on Jan. 12. That weapon was later turned over to Detective Kevin Grigsby.
The Encore then turned onto Yuma Road and the rear-seat passenger on the driver’s side “jumped out of the vehicle rolling directly in front of my cruiser,” Mullins’ report continues. “Thankfully,” he said, “I was able to stop my patrol car in time to avoid running him over.”
That male, later identified as Dystin Johnson, “jumped up and then took off running up the embankment near the intersection,” where Officer Britton and Mullins were able to “catch him and get him on the ground and handcuffed”.
At that point, the Scott Co. Sheriff’s Office took over the chase of the vehicle, where it all ended on Salisbury Lane about half a mile east of where Johnson bailed out of the Encore.
The driver, identified as Austin Burchfield, 31, of Colonial Road, Surgoinsville, had a suspended driver license resulting from failure to pay fines in Virginia in 2017. He was also charged by SCSO for eluding police and other related charges.
SCSO charged Johnson for being a fugitive from justice, resisting arrest, and eluding police, Mullins said.
Mullins stated that he would be obtaining an arrest warrant for Burchfield for possession of stolen property, felony evading arrest, felony reckless endangerment (two counts), and driving with a suspended driver license.
The two females were not arrested but were escorted to the Church Hill Police Department where they gave a statement to Det. Kevin Grigsby in reference to another incident.
The Buick, valued at $30,000, was towed by SWAT Towing.
The age and address of Johnson was not listed in the report.