A high speed chase that began in Newberry County ended near downtown Saluda Mon. morning, April 8. The chase involved an alleged kidnapping. A 911 call to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office alerted officers to the situation. A citizen called 911 after she saw a man come from the trunk of a vehicle, shove the female driver from the seat, and got inside the car and drove away.
The female who was in the vehicle then called 911 from the vehicle and advised that the subject was now holding her against her will and she wanted out of the car. The suspect then took the phone and said that he was on a mission and this situation was not going to end well.
The suspect car, a 2012 black Impala, was then seen by a Deputy Sheriff on Highway 219 while on the way to the call. The deputy turned around and attempted stop the vehicle using blue lights and sirens at which point the suspect began to drive fast and elude the officers.
The vehicle fled on Highway 219, down Main Street of Newberry, then left onto Nance Street which is also Highway 395, the chase then went into Saluda County.
Saluda Acting Chief Brett Long said the Saluda County portion of the chase crossed the Denny Hwy. onto Sport Road, turned right, and eventually turned left on Hollywood Road, then right onto 378 headed toward Saluda.
The Saluda Police spike strips were deplayed at the intersection of Hwy. 378 and Interprise Road.
"We wanted to make sure we slowed him down before he got to the school zone," Long said. "We had forgotten school was out for spring break, which was a a blessing."
The car still made it into the Saluda Town Limits, where it attempted to go down a dead end streeet before he came to a stop.
Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry City Police Department, Saluda County Sheriff’s Office, Saluda Police Department, and the South Carolina Highway Patrol all participated in the chase.
As a South Carolina Highway Patrolman attempted to overtake the suspect, he intentionally swerved into the trooper on two occasions, once striking the trooper’s car.
The suspect was taken into custody without incident. The suspect was identified as Henry Phonix Davis, 50, of 5 Brasington Street, Cheraw, SC. Davis has an extensive prior criminal that includes sexual assault, burglary, armed robbery, and impersonating a police officer.
It appears that the victim in this case, who law enforcement is not identifying at this point, began working with the suspect on Friday soliciting funds for a supposed non-profit organization he operates. She began asking the suspect to take her home, but he refused and began driving in rural areas around the state finally landing in Newberry County where this incident occurred.
When he stopped to relieve himself, the victim got into the driver’s seat and take off. The suspect who had the trunk open was able to get into the trunk of the car and when the victim stopped for a school bus the incident ensued as he pushed her from the seat and began driving.
The suspect is housed at the Newberry County Detention Center pending charges, which will include Kidnapping, Assault and Battery 1st Degree, Failure To Stop For Law Enforcement Vehicle, and Driving Under Suspension.
"This is a prime example of the conundrum law enforcement faces when deciding to engage in a pursuit. In such a situation law enforcement must consider the immediate danger to the victim and the likelihood of the suspect continuing a crime spree which could make other citizens innocent victims as well," said Newberry Coutny Sheriff Lee Foster. "If we allowed the suspect to escape and he were to kill this victim or harm others, we would be judged for having allowed such a violent suspect to escape. Law enforcement was forced to make a decision and I believe we made the right decision and are very thankful that it ended with no injuries and the suspect in custody."
Sheriff Foster also praised the communication between the many law enforcement agencies and those willing to give of themselves to serve in a dangerous situation.
The suspect vehicle was rented vehicle and the suspect was not armed at the time of arrest.