A prisoner transport van was carjacked at gunpoint Monday by two men who took a juvenile prisoner with them as a pursuit led authorities on a chase almost to downtown Chattanooga, reaching speeds of more than 100 mph, according to Marion County authorities.
Brian Stone and Richard Gerald have been charged in the incident, a news release states. Marion County's sheriff said Stone is also wanted in Hamilton County in connection with the shooting reported a couple of hours earlier in the 6400 block of Ooltewah-Georgetown Road where two people were hospitalized with serious injuries from gunfire reported about 3:30 p.m. Monday.
The carjacking began in Marion County about 5 p.m. CST Monday when a Tennessee Department of Children's Services prisoner transport van was allegedly stolen at Exit 143 on Interstate 24 by Stone and Gerald. According to the news release, the men were driving a Nissan Versa and pulled in behind the van, Marion County Sheriff's Office Detective Chad Johnson said in the news release.
The juvenile prisoner in the van escaped with the carjackers, who fled onto I-24 eastbound. Police spotted the van and a Nissan Versa at Exit 152 in Kimball and a high-speed chase ensued with law enforcement and the fleeing vehicle headed toward Chattanooga, according to Johnson. The chase ended just before the I-24-U.S. Highway 27 interchange in Chattanooga at the new off-ramp for South Broad Street when officers boxed the Nissan Versa in and forced it up against the concrete barrier wall, he said.
The male juvenile escapee and Stone were taken into custody at that location, while Gerald was captured in Jasper, Tennessee, where the transport van was recovered, authorities said.
The juvenile, originally in custody for second-degree murder, was turned back over to Children's Services, according to the release. Stone and Gerald were booked into the Marion County Jail on the charge of armed robbery with more charges pending, Johnson said in the release.
During the fingerprinting process, authorities determined Stone already had 11 active arrest warrants in Hamilton County, including four warrants for attempted first-degree murder from the Monday shooting, Johnson said.
"It sounds like it worked out good, and nobody got hurt," Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said Tuesday in a phone interview. "Everybody worked good together from the foot of Monteagle Mountain to Chattanooga."
Burnett said the van pulled into a convenience store, and the Nissan was following close behind. The van was abandoned at Exit 155 and one of the two men and the juvenile got into the Nissan, he said.
"Originally, it came out as possibly a kidnapping of a teenager, but it turned out the teenager was being transported to Memphis and had been convicted of second-degree murder," Burnett said. "It was just a wild night. We ended up with two adult males in custody and, after a lengthy discussion with DCS, the juvenile was transported to Murfreesboro."
The operation involved the Marion County Sheriff's Office, 12th Judicial District Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, along with the South Pittsburg, Jasper and Kimball police departments, according to Johnson. The Marion County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division will lead the investigation now to pursue further charges, the detective said.
Staff writer Ellen Gerst contributed to this report.