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MCSO releases dash cam video, updated charges following high-speed chase and manhunt

MCSO dash cam video from high-speed chase
MCSO dash cam video from high-speed chase
Updated: Jan. 8, 2019 at 8:35 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said he applauds his officers, nearby agencies and collaboration with the sheriff’s office in Washington Parish, Louisiana for the arrests made in a dangerous high-speed chase through Montgomery County just days after Christmas.

On Dec. 28th, a nationwide alert was sent out that three fugitives fled Louisiana following an armed robbery and shooting in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Sgt. David Alford, with MCSO, reportedly saw the described vehicle travelling right outside of Montgomery city limits. Dashboard camera video shows Alford attempting to pull the vehicle over, but the driver refusing to stop. The 22-minute video shows Alford following the car, all the way down I-85 S and eventually exiting at Taylor Road.

The car carrying the suspects turned left onto Vaughn Road, where it hit another vehicle, and continued miles down Vaughn road until another off-duty deputy laid out a spike strip, causing the vehicle’s tires to flatten and run off the road. The car finally stopped just feet away from Macon East Academy, right at the entrance of the Vaughn East subdivision.

Of the four people in the vehicle, one 14 year-old girl was released. The other three, adults Melissa Michelle Smith and Lance Hunter Rouse and a 17-year-old the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office identified as Levi Austin Lee, each face charges for first degree murder and armed robbery in Washington Parish.

Melissa Smith is charged with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and two counts...
Melissa Smith is charged with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and two counts of armed robbery.
Lance Rouse is charged with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and two counts...
Lance Rouse is charged with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and two counts of armed robbery.
Levi Austin Lee faces charges for first degree murder and armed robbery in Washington Parish.
Levi Austin Lee faces charges for first degree murder and armed robbery in Washington Parish.(Source: Montgomery County Detention Facility)

Cunningham said the initial charges were for attempted murder and armed robbery, but they were upgraded when authorities learned the man who was shot in the initial armed robbery passed away from his injuries the next day.

Cunningham said it’s common for law enforcement to work together across state lines. However, he said this situation was particularly more collaborative because the chief deputy for Washington Parish, Mike Haley, has multiple ties to law enforcement in Alabama.

“He used to be the DOC prison commissioner in Alabama,” Cunningham said. “Then he was the jail director in Mobile County. It really helped, as far as being able to communicate, because we had someone we knew there.”

Residents who live in the area where the car was stopped said they received an alert on their phone that the situation was occurring.

Jennifer Michaels said she is pleased with how the situation was handled.

“We saw three to four blue lights come down our road, which is a little much,” Michaels said. “But it is exciting to know that the pursuit happened so quickly. Maybe 10 minutes later, the app came on again to say all were in custody.”

MCSO Assistant Chief Deputy Jon Briggs said multiple officers from the sheriff’s office, the Montgomery Police Department and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency assisted with the chase and ensuing manhunt.

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