Fugitive caught in Fannin County
You can run, but you can’t get away – at least not forever.
That’s the lesson Joshua Lee Bryant, 32, of 308 Nichols Circle, Blairsville, learned late Tuesday, July 2, when he was tackled in a creek by Blue Ridge Police Officer Matt Kaylor.
With Kaylor and Fannin County Deputy Sheriff Caitlyn Patterson on his heels, and several more Fannin deputies in the area, Bryant’s freedom ended shortly before midnight.
As of Monday morning, he was being held in the Gilmer County Detention Center under a $15,500 bond related to East Ellijay Police Department charges.
In Fannin County, Bryant is charged with two counts of obstruction of an officer, fleeing/attempting to elude, driving without a license, failure to maintain lane, and reckless driving. Bond was set at $7,500.
The manhunt for Bryant began sometime around 2 a.m. Friday, June 28, when he escaped from East Ellijay police.
Bryant had been taken into custody by East Ellijay Police Officer Tommy Long for allegedly shoplifting at Walmart, according to a report published in the Times-Courier newspaper in Ellijay.
Long had received a call Bryant was at the store, two days after he was shown video of Bryant possibly shoplifting there June 26.
Bryant became combative and Long, with help from Ellijay officer Trevor McClure, “essentially had to fight him to get him in the patrol car,” East Ellijay Chief Larry Callahan said.
As the officers gathered items to return them to Walmart, Bryant was able to get one of his hands free of the handcuffs and escape.
A search of the area using a K-9 failed to locate the suspect.
A Toyota truck was reported stolen from the Orchard Road area in Gilmer County the next morning and a look out was issued.
Fannin County dispatch received a report around 9:15 a.m. of a male asleep in a silver Toyota truck at the Hemptown Connector on Highway 2 (APD 515) East.
Deputies Matthew Peardon and Thomas Kay responded to the scene along with Deputy Brian Wingate.
Peardon and Wingate positioned their cars in front of and behind the Toyota, and placed spike strips in front of the front passenger side tire.
Peardon knocked on the window to wake the driver, who refused to open the door, Peardon’s report said.
Bryant started the Toyota, put it in drive and pushed Wingate’s patrol car. With Peardon beating on the window with his baton, Bryant fled the scene, heading east on Highway 2 toward Union County.
Speeds reached over 100 miles per hour as Bryant drove all over the roadway, Peardon’s report said.
Bryant turned left off Highway 2 onto Highway 325, then onto Dean Gap Road and back onto Highway 325. Peardon wrote Bryant almost hit several cars head on around curves as the chase continued.
With Union County deputies also in pursuit, Bryant turned into a yard, a field and then into the woods, where patrol cars could not follow. He abandoned the vehicle and fled when the truck became stuck. Deputies were unable to catch the suspect.
Four days later, July 2, shortly after 11 p.m., Fannnin County Deputy Brendan Jourdan responded to a tip Bryant was waiting for a ride in the area of the Riverstone Medical Campus.
Bryant fled on foot as Jourdan approached in his patrol car, according to the deputy’s report.
Kaylor said when he arrived Jourdan, Patterson and Sgt. Joel Pack were searching for Bryant in the area between the back, gravel entrance to Riverstone and the former Midas facility, now Highley’s North Georgia Engine.
Kaylor was first positioned on the gravel road, holding a flashlight to help the deputies search the heavily wooded area. He then drove up the gravel road toward the back entrance to Riverstone.
Patterson was above his location and shouted that Bryant was in the woods below her.
Kaylor and Patterson began chasing Bryant, Kaylor said.
“It was all you could do to find a path,” through the thick woods, Kaylor said.
When the chase reached the creek, Kaylor said he spotted Bryant about 20 yards ahead “running right up the middle of the creek.”
Kaylor was able to catch the fleeing suspect and tackle him into the water where he handcuffed him.
Fannin County deputies Sgt. Jacob Pless and Dustin Carder, who had also arrived to join the chase, took Bryant into custody.
Also involved in the chase were Fannin County deputies Lt. Terry Stanley and Jordan Wright.
Bryant is charged by East Ellijay authorities with escape, interference with government property, three counts of obstruction of an officer, theft by shoplifting and theft by taking.
Union County has also placed a hold on Bryant to face charges there.