Two people believed to be responsible for the attempted murder and kidnapping of a Hamlet man last week have been taken into custody, according to police.
Reports of a carjacking on Tuesday in Holly Hill, Fla., have been traced back to Jonathan Travis Sweeney, 25, of Academy Road, Laurinburg, and Brittany Jordan Smith, 23, of Sandhill Road, Rockingham, who were arrested near Daytona Beach by the Holly Hill Police Department and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office later that day.
Acting Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin said on Friday that authorities were in search of suspects involved with the attempted murder of 59-year-old Elijah Odom of Oak Street in Hamlet.
On Oct. 24, police received reports that Odom had been tied and “severely beaten,” that his home appeared to be ransacked, and his truck had been stolen.
“We have one or maybe two suspects in mind,” Griffin said on Friday.
According to Holly Hill Police Department Chief Mark Barker, the story continued at approximately 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when his department received a call of a stolen car from a Valero convenience store in Holly Hill.
“The two individuals out of your area, Brittany Smith and Jonathan Sweeney, were operating a stolen Toyota pickup truck,” Barker said. “They made it to our area and the truck was running out of gas so they were going to steal another car to swap it out. An individual pulled in (to the convenience store) to get gas and run into the store, in a Toyota Camry, and they dropped the keys on the floorboard and ran into the store.”
At that point, Sweeney jumped out of the truck, jumped into the Camry, and drove out of the parking lot with Smith driving the stolen pickup behind him, said Barker.
“About 45 minutes later, we received word from the Hamlet Police Department that a family member of Brittany Smith’s had received a call from her, indicating that she was in our area,” Barker said.
“We took the warrants out (Monday) afternoon,” Griffin said. “We finally got enough information to establish probable cause and warrants were taken out on both (individuals).”
Within a few minutes, Barker said that one of his officers spotted Smith walking on Brentwood Drive and made a “subject stop.” According to the police chief, Smith gave a fictitious name and it became clear to the officer that she was trying to misidentify herself. Ultimately, the officer was able to make proper identification, Barker said.
“We interviewed Smith at the scene and she explained that Sweeney was still in the stolen Camry in the immediate area and that he may have been armed with a handgun,” Barker continued. “She also said he indicated to her that he wasn’t going to be taken into custody, that he would put up a fight.
“We immediately began searching the area and Sweeney was found inside the stolen vehicle on Derbyshire Road,” Barker said. “A pursuit of the vehicle was authorized based on the severity of the charges coming from the Hamlet Police Department. A pursuit of probably close to five miles began through a predominantly residential area. My officers were able to get up to Derbyshire Road and they deployed Stop Sticks in front of the vehicle.”
According to Barker, at the point that Sweeney hit the tire deflation device, a sheriff’s deputy had stopped his car in one lane to get his own Stop Stick from the truck of his patrol car.
“Sweeney’s car impacted the deputy’s car and literally sent the sheriff’s deputy flying,” Barker said. One police officer on the scene said the impact sent the deputy “somersaulting twice” before he hit the ground.
“(The deputy is) being treated at Halifax hospital for non-life threatening injuries,” Barker said, and Sweeney was also being treated for injuries.
In addition to the deputy who was struck, one Holly Hill police officer received minor injuries to his neck and shoulder while taking Sweeney into custody because Sweeney was resisting, the chief said. That officer was treated and later released.
Both Sweeney and Smith have been charged in the City of Holly Hill with grand theft of an automobile, and Barker said Sweeney is also facing a multitude of additional felony charges based upon the fleeing and alluding and the subsequent crash.
The two are being held without bond in the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“We can’t get them unless they waive extradition,” Griffin said about Smith and Sweeney. He added that the issue of extradition to North Carolina may be discussed after the Florida authorities decide how they want to proceed on their own charges.