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Suspect checks out wrong street in car theft

The case of a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department patrol carcrashing into a utility pole included a bit of role reversal,authorities said.

“It wasn’t an officer driving it,” said Sheriff Wiley Calcote ashe walked by the stolen patrol car that came to a stop on SouthJackson Street in front of the Lincoln County Public Library lateThursday night.

Instead, authorities said a man who was stopped on Interstate 55drove off in the patrol car after getting out of the back seatthrough a rear window.

The man and a female passenger were waiting in the patrol car’sback seat while the 2006 Toyota they were riding in was beingsearched for possible drugs. The vehicle was stopped around milemarker 39 due to improper equipment, officials said.

The couple was identified as David Andrew Beck, 35, and hisgirlfriend Linda Gaudet, 46, both of 100 Concord Loop, Lot 27,Pearl River, La.

As the couple rode away in the patrol car, the sheriff’sdepartment’s narcotics agent followed in the Toyota and called forassistance on his personal radio. Citing potential job-relateddangers associated with narcotics work, Calcote did not identifythe officer.

Driving the patrol car, Beck left the interstate at exit 40 andtraveled down Brookway Boulevard at speeds estimated at over 100miles per hour. After turning onto Monticello Street, he thenturned south on Jackson Street and struck a utility pole in frontof the library.

“I don’t know why he decided to drive through downtownBrookhaven,” Calcote said. “I’m just glad he didn’t hit anybodycoming through town as fast as he was going.”

Following the crash, Beck fled on foot. He was apprehended byBrookhaven Police Department Det. Bobby Bell about two blocks awaynear The Inez.

“As soon as they gave the description, I had eyes on him,” Bellsaid.

Beck sustained a scratch on his leg, Calcote said. Gaudet wastaken to King’s Daughters Medical Center.

“She was in the back seat of the patrol car. When he hit thatpole, that threw her head into the cage,” Calcote said.

During a search of the Toyota, authorities found crack cocaineand marijuana, Calcote said. The sheriff said the amount was notknown, adding that officers planned to weigh it this morning.

“It wasn’t a lot, but it was a good bit, too,” Calcote said.

Beck has been charged with possession of crack cocaine withintent to distribute and leaving the scene of an accident withinjuries and other charges. Calcote said the district attorney wasbeing consulted about possible additional charges in theincident.

Gaudet has been charged with possession of crack cocaine withintent to distribute and possession of Xanax.