Cashier's tip puts criminal back behind bars -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cashier's tip puts criminal back behind bars

April 10, 2007

Bainbridge--  What would you do if you saw a suspicious person wearing what seemed to be a prison uniform, driving a car on their own? Would you take action?  

Those are the questions a cashier in the small town of Fowlston had to ask himself yesterday morning.   Thankfully, he called 911. The call sparked a search that led to the arrest of an armed robber.

At the Decatur County Correctional Institute, Steven Powell was serving time for armed robbery and aggravated assault.  Assigned to work next door at the county road department, he had access to the keys of an old sheriffs car.

Apparently the temptation was too much.  "Basically he just left the road department and he went as far as Fowlstown," said Decatur county Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

 Around 10:45 p.m., witnesses say Powell headed down highway 309 and pulled into Swicords store.  A cashier at the store, Charles Harris said Powell stopped at their water fauctet, because the car had overheated. 

"All of the sudden I see an inmate come out, no warden or nothing, just him by himself, right," said Harris.  It was the striped pants of the man's uniform that tipped Harris off he was an inmate.

"He went back to try to crank the car up and the car wouldn't crank so he let the hood down, all the sudden down the highway this way he went walking, running," Harris said.

Harris called 911 and reported what he'd seen.  "They helped us, to get us started on it, that's when we realized he'd escaped," said Griffin.

Sheriff's deputies, Bainbridge public safety and three canine search units searched Powell through the woods.  It was about three hours until finally they spotted Powell again, leaving southern raceways in a different car.

"He would not yield to the blue lights and the undercover truck, he sped to almost 100 miles per hour," said Griffin.

Public safety officers joined the chase as it got into Bainbridge. Heavy traffic played a part in slowing him down.  "Got him pulled over on Washington and College street, and that's where the arrest went on," said Harris.  

If it weren't for Harris's quick action, it would have taken much longer to realize Powell was gone.  But Harris say's he was just trying to protect his community.  "He might be an armed robber or a murder or whatsoever you know, and I didn't want nobody else to get hurt you know," Harris said.

Powell was returned to the correctional institute. He now faces additional charges of escape, and 2 charges of auto theft.

Sheriff Griffin said warrants for more armed robbery and aggravated assault charges in Grady county had come down on Powell the same day of his escape.  They think that might be what triggered his decision to run.




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