A renegade fugitive from Monroe County led Lowndes County Deputies on a 20 minute-long high-speed chase Tuesday afternoon in and around Caledonia before being caught on Land Rd.
Caledonia Town Marshal Ben Kilgore was called to the Texaco Quick Stop on Wolfe Rd. in Caledonia when a clerk became suspicious after a customer attempted to use a stolen credit card.
Michael Ray Helms, 34, of Hamilton, was stopped before he reached his car in the parking lot of the convenience store and questioned by Kilgore around 1:50pm. Helms began to act “jittery” and nervous as the deputy questioned him, and he quickly made a move for his waiting Honda Accord as Kilgore was checking in with E-911 to run his name for any criminal history. The desperado then slid into his sedan and quickly backed out of the parking lot, denting the door of an occupied car driven by an unidentified young woman before he peeled out of the fueling center and headed north on Wolfe Rd. just after 2:00pm.
Kilgore quickly called for backup and jumped into his cruiser and began to chase Helms. Kilgore closed in on the hooligan rather quickly before the thug sped up and recklessly tore though downtown Caledonia en route north to Martin Rd. As Kilgore relayed the location of the goon, E-911 operators informed responding deputies that Helms had several outstanding warrants from the Mississippi Department of Corrections(MDOC), and was also wanted in Monroe county for writing bad checks. Assistant Shift Leader Larry Swearingen reached the area just as E-911 advised those in pursuit that Helms was considered an escape risk and was assumed dangerous. Dispatchers notified Monroe County deputies and the Mississippi Highway Patrol that Helms was on the run.
Lowndes County Deputies and Metro-Narcotics units swarmed to the area as Kilgore continued to radio in a play-by-play of the pursuit as it snaked through northern Lowndes county [Metro-Narcotics units had just been on scene in Columbus where a Columbus Police Lt. had just been assaulted minutes prior-CK]. Deputies attempted to block his escape, but the scofflaw rammed Kilgore’s car in a desperate attempt to stay on the run.
Helms then made his way back to downtown Caledonia and traveled south on Wolfe Rd. in speeds in excess of 100 MPH. Larry Swearingen closed in on the fugitive as he sped down Wolfe in a adrenaline induced frenzy, nearly striking several civilian vehicles as he raced down the quiet country road. E-911 dispatchers radioed to Columbus Police to see if they could set up spike-strips to disable Helms’ vehicle as it approached Wolfe at Military Rd.
The malefactor, in a surprisingly well-executed maneuver, made a violent u-turn at Alomar and Wolfe, sideswiping Swearingen in the process. Around 2:12pm, Lowndes County Deputy Scott Glasgow joined the pursuit as it proceeded north on Wolfe, and he took over the main descriptive duties on the radio. Helms skirted past more civilians before turning west on Cherokee and making his way to Ridge Rd.
More than five law enforcement vehicles were in hot pursuit as the hustler scuttled north on Ridge Rd, temporarily taking flight at the high railroad crossing just north of the intersection of Ridge and Cherokee. Helms scampered down Ridge for a bit before taking a hard left onto North Spurline and galloping towards Hwy 45 at breakneck speed. Deputies later said Helms crossed Hwy 45 without even slowing down, coming within inches of crashing into oncoming traffic.
The convict then darted up Hwy 45 to Land Rd. (by Johnny Bishop RV) before losing control of his Accord in the sharp curve. Around 2:20pm, Helms took out a fence in someone’s front yard before his import spun into a drainage ditch on the east side of the road. The culprit then stepped on the gas to escape the furrow, but his escape was cut short by the alert-minded Swearingen, who rammed his cruiser into the small sedan. The impact forced the wrongdoer’s car back into the ditch.
Helms was belligerent as deputies attempted to remove him from the car, and cursed the officers as they attempted to take him into custody. Helms was repeatedly warned to calm down before deputies finally made the decision to Taser him. Helms cried out and fell to the ground as the electricity coursed through his veins and he was then subdued.
The transgressor was then put on a stretcher around 2:45pm, nearly 50 minutes after first being questioned, and transported to BMH-GT for the treatment of some minor injuries. Helms was later charged with Felony Evading & Eluding, Probation Violation and Assaulting a Police Officer. MDOC and Monroe county had several warrants for financial crimes, and Lowndes County authorities said Wednesday that more charges may be pending in the case.
Several witnesses to the chase followed the action until it ended on Land Rd. and questioned why the high-speed chase carried on for so long at such high speeds. Lowndes County authorities told The Packet yesterday that the call to continue a high-speed pursuit is up to the deputies involved. Helms had several Felony warrants for his arrest when the pursuit began and did intentionally ram a deputy early in the pursuit. The department said that his actions would give a clear indication that abandoning the pursuit would allow someone such as Helms, who was considered dangerous, to do more harm if allowed to go free.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol, following Lowndes County protocol, has taken over the investigation because deputies’ vehicles were damaged in the pursuit.