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April 4, 2013

Burglary suspect found on school bus

2 Dodge City burglary suspects caught on foot, one still at large

One suspect remains at large, while two more have been charged in connection with a break-in at Lakeside Pharmacy that occurred around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning in Dodge City.

Hiawatha Cole Jr., 26, and Korbin Alan Nichols, 24, of Birmingham, were arrested after pursuit by local authorities. Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey said they received a call from the alarm company that the pharmacy had been broken into, but before deputies arrived, bystanders played a key role by startling the burglary suspects at the pharmacy.

“The first call came in at 3:11 a.m., there was a gentleman that was in the parking lot of the Dodge City Petro truck stop and heard the glass break at the pharmacy,” Rainey said. “About the same time, we received a call from the alarm company at the pharmacy. The male from the truck stop followed the suspects going south on I-65.”

Deputies pursued the suspects, who were driving a gold Tahoe southbound on Interstate 65 at approximately 3:21 a.m. reaching 100 miles per hour. The Tahoe traveled to the Arkadelphia exit on Highway 91, got off there, and continued going south on Highway 91 toward Arkadelphia.

“They exited on County Road 24 and then stopped on the road and bailed out of their car,” Rainey said. “The deputies were then in foot pursuit at 3:23 a.m. along with the Cullman Police Department and their k-9 unit; they searched the area for the three suspects who were three black males dressed in black.”

Nichols was caught near 2500 County Road 8 in the woods. He was initially spotted by a Cullman County game warden, who was helping with the search.

“The K-9 unit and some of the officers tried to track the guys through the woods and the other officers set up a perimeter,” Rainey said. “The Department of Public Safety brought in their helicopter and searched the area. We contacted dispatch who notified the Board of Education to let their bus drivers know what was happening in the area.”

A short time later, a Cullman County bus driver who was entering a bus to begin her route at the fire station in Arkadelphia noticed a man on the bus and returned to her car in the parking lot, where he followed her.

“A lady on a bus radio was calling for assistance about 100 yards from the intersection at the fire station at Arkadelphia,” Rainey said. “We had patrol cars pull up to the driveway, and he was caught in a foot pursuit about 50 yards from there.”

Cullman County Superintendent Billy Coleman said he is very thankful that no children were on the school bus when the incident occurred.

“We are very blessed that it happened the way that it did,” Coleman said. “I want to thank the sheriff’s department; they did a great job, because in seconds they had deputies there and were able to apprehend the suspect. I just wanted to let them know how much we appreciate them.”

Rainey said that no one was injured in the pursuit today and they have yet to confirm the identity of the third suspect. Neither suspect had a weapon at the time of their arrest.

Cole will be charged with third degree burglary and receiving stolen property. Nichols is being charged with third degree burglary. Both are being held at the Cullman County Detention Center, and no bond has been set.

“ I would like to thank the Cullman City Police Department, Hanceville Police Department, Sheriff’s Deputies, officers and Alabama State Troopers for their patrol help, air support, and hard work today,” Rainey said. “We also want to thank the man who heard the glass break and followed them long enough for our officers to take pursuit. As far as the pharmacy owner can tell, nothing was taken.”

Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the third suspect in the Lakeside Pharmacy burglary, should  contact the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office at 256-735-2400.

Lauren Estes can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 270 or at laurene@cullmantimes.com.

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