Assault suspect in jail after arrest in Ill.

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Brookhaven man accused of trying to run down a correctionsofficer with a stolen van in February is finally in custody inLincoln County after being apprehended in Illinois earlier thismonth, authorities said.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said Thomas “Stagger Lee”Williams, of 301 Marr St., was arrested July 2 during a routinetraffic stop by the Peoria (Ill.) Police Department after findingan indictment on him for uttering forgery in the National CrimeInformation Center database.

He was also wanted on a warrant for probation violations by theMississippi Department of Corrections. The MDOC arrangedtransportation for him back to Lincoln County, where he was bookedinto the Lincoln County Jail on Monday.

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“I think all of us had something on him on NCIC,” said Rushing,saying that the investigation had been one that all area agencieshad been involved in. “The incident happened in the city, so wedidn’t have anything to do with that part of the investigation, butwe followed different leads out in the county looking for him.”

Police Chief Pap Henderson said Williams will face charges notonly from MDOC and the indictment by sheriff’s department, but alsothrough the Brookhaven Police Department as well. The policedepartment’s charges stem from the alleged assault, which happenedinside the city.

The assault incident happened in February, when Williams wassitting in a friend’s van when Mississippi Department ofCorrections officers pulled up to serve a warrant on him forprobation violations. His inital conviction was delivery of acontrolled substance.

“We were going to serve a warrant for failure to report, failureto pay supervision fees, and other probation violations,” said MDOCspokesperson Tara Booth.

Booth said the next step lies with local law enforcement.

“We’ll obviously put in to revoke his probation because that’swhere our jurisdiction would lie. Obviously your local agencieswould press charges, and the DA would do that. That’s where theball will pick up from here,” she said.

Henderson said those charges are already on the books.

“We’ve put a hold on him on those charges,” said Henderson.”We’ll be charging him with aggravated assault on a law enforcementofficer.”

Seeing the MDOC officers arrive, Williams escaped in the van, inthe process attempting to hit corrections officer Rhonda Boyd.Officers fired shots at the vehicle as Williams made hisescape.

The incident started a multi-agency chase and search by membersof the police department and sheriff’s department, as well as MDOCand other state agencies. The MDOC later determined that theofficers were justified in firing on the van after the attempteduse of deadly force by its driver.

Officers found the van a short time later, still running andburied to the axle in mud on the gravel service road off MainStreet behind Polly’s Restaurant and the old Sola Fide factory.

“We’ll fully assist the DA and local officers in thisinvestigation,” said Booth. “Of course our officers were on thescene, and we’ll gladly cooperate in any way we can.”

Officials think Williams has family in Illinois, which isbelieved to be what prompted his flight to that state after thealleged aggravated assault.