Crime & Courts

Police use gas to get hit & run suspect barricaded in Lexington home, ending standoff

Matthew Johns
Matthew Johns Lexington Police Department

After five hours of negotiating, the Lexington Police Department used gas to help arrest a man who had barricaded himself inside a house Wednesday.

Officers attempted to serve Matthew Johns with arrest warrants around 3 p.m., according to Police Chief Terence Green.

But the 28-year-old Lexington resident “barricaded” himself in the home in the 200 block of Coventry Drive, forcing police to create a perimeter around the residence and warn residents to stay out of the area.

“Negotiators spoke with him for five hours with no results,” Green said shortly after 8 p.m. “Emergency service team deployed gas and we apprehend(ed) him.”

It is believed that Johns was not armed, according to public information officer Cpl. Cameron Mortenson, but Green said officers were searching the residence.

Johns was wanted on multiple warrants from the Lexington Police Department, including failure to stop for blue lights, driving under suspension, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a collision.

“Officers came to serve arrest warrants on him for failure to stop and hit and run, the previous day, yesterday,” Green said.

Officers and the Crisis Negotiations Team tried to persuade Johns to come out of the home.

According to the police, prior to the standoff “officers spoke to several individuals outside the residence who stated that Johns was inside. Officers attempted to call Johns from the residence with no response.”

Police reported they closed Coventry Drive through the 200 block to all traffic and set up a perimeter around the residence.

Prior to 7 p.m., police reported negotiators made contact with Johns by phone and continued to work toward a resolution. But Johns eventually hung up and would not take negotiators’ “repeated calls again,” according to the police.

Although Johns was not hostile, Green said he refused to come out, forcing the police to use gas.

The Emergency Services Team fired “chemical munitions into the house, and after a short period of time ... Johns exited through a window in the garage and was immediately taken into custody,” the police reported.

“He’s not injured, he was checked by EMS before being booked at Lexington County (Detention Center),” Green said.

Police reported they had been seeking Johns since Tuesday, when an officer attempted to pull over Johns for speeding. Johns “recklessly” sped away, and the officer “did not pursue” because of public safety concerns.

Later Tuesday, another officer saw Johns in the same vehicle, and tried to stop him “for the earlier failure to stop for blue lights incident,” according to the police. Again, Johns drove off, this time “nearly striking a pedestrian in a parking lot,” before driving away on Sunset Boulevard.

This officer also did not pursue Johns, because of the suspect’s “reckless driving,” which the police reported caused a collision on Sunset Boulevard, near Mineral Springs Road, before “immediately (leaving) the scene.”

Police reported Johns was charged with two counts of failure to stop for blue lights, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a collision and driving under suspension — 2nd offense.

Ann Dowdy, who lives in the Vintage Place neighborhood in Florence, S.C., describes watching law enforcement descend on her community. Seven police officers were shot, one fatally, in a nearby home on Oct. 3, 2018.

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