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Four-county pursuit suspect arrested five hours after crashing in Mount Carmel

Jeff Bobo • Aug 10, 2018 at 7:07 PM

CHURCH HILL — A Unicoi County man who emerged from the woods in Church Hill Friday morning carrying an ax handle had allegedly crashed a car in Mount Carmel five hours earlier following a four-county, high speed police pursuit.

Around 8:43 a.m., Church Hill police responded to Sunrise Avenue near Old Stage Road, where man later identified as Dewayne Francisco Tipton, 32, of Erwin, was reportedly walking around with an ax handle and asking people if he was in Johnson City.

Tipton was the suspected driver in a high speed chase that started at 3:20 a.m. in Erwin and followed I-26 north through Johnson City, Gray and into Kingsport.

At the end of the interstate, Tipton reportedly turned west on Carters Valley Road and headed into Hawkins County.

He eventually made his way onto East Main Boulevard in Church Hill and then doubled back into Mount Carmel, where he crashed at the dead end on Kaywood Avenue.

After the crash, Tipton fled on foot into the woods. A female passenger in the vehicle reportedly identified him.

Tipton wasn’t seen again until he came out of the woods on Sunrise Avenue in Church Hill more than five hours later.

Upon seeing responding officers, Tipton reportedly began running south through residents’ backyards.

He crossed Old Stage Road, East Main Boulevard and Highway 11-W before climbing the Holston Army Ammunition Plant security fence and disappearing into the woods.

Church Hill Police Department Chief Mark Johnson said he contacted BAE Systems and received permission to pursue Tipton on the HAAP grounds.

“Detective Ethan Mays and Officer Daniel Byington scaled the fence and chased Tipton into the woods inside BAE property,” Johnson said. “Due to the thick wooded area, officers lost sight of Tipton. A short time later, Tipton reappeared near Silver Lake Road, but upon seeing officers he fled on foot to Derrick Park. Mays and Byington got close enough to Tipton inside Derrick Park to deploy Tasers. Tipton fell to the ground, continued to resist but was then cuffed.”

The CHPD charged Tipton with evading arrest, criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.

Johnson said Tipton was sober at the time of his arrest, although there was speculation that he might have been under the influence at the time of the initial pursuit — hence Tipton’s not knowing what town he was in.

Tipton was found to have a revoked driver’s license, and other jurisdictions have charges pending as well.

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