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Ridgeland man in custody after high-speed chase

A Ridgeland man accused of attempting to steal tools from a truck parked at a Beaufort hotel led police on a high-speed chase Tuesday that became so dangerous the pursuit was briefly called off, police said.

Twice the man tried to ram the two patrol cars assigned to tail him as he sped down a dirt road near Old Salem Road before leading officers onto Robert Smalls Parkway, authorities said. Beaufort police called off the pursuit then, but picked it up after the man was spotted about five minutes later. He was eventually grabbed by a resident who spotted him jumping over a backyard fence and who held him until police arrived soon after, police said.

"The chase was called off due to the dangerous driving of the suspect and the high volume of civilian traffic," Police Chief Matt Clancy said. "When conducting a chase, you really have to use a balance of the danger posed to the community if the suspect got away versus the damage that could be caused by the chase.

"When he was driving around on some of those dirt roads, it wasn't really an issue, but when he got back on (Robert Smalls Parkway), the way he was driving was just too dangerous."

Officers were called to the Country Inn and Suites on Boundary Street around 1 p.m. where witnesses told investigators they had spotted a man trying to steal tools from a truck parked at the hotel. As the witnesses were giving their statements to police, one of the witnesses spotted the man, later identified as 53-year-old Robert Wayne Russell, according to Clancy.

After managing to lose officers briefly in afternoon traffic, Russell's vehicle was spotted in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex. When officers tried to stop him, Russell sped off, Clancy said.

About five minutes after the chase was called off, Russell was spotted on Old Jericho Road, where he jumped from his vehicle and ran.

Clancy said Russell jumped a fence into a backyard and was grabbed by the homeowner who prevented him from getting away while police caught up to him.

No injuries were reported in the chase, which lasted about 15 minutes.

Russell was charged with attempted breaking and entering of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for blue lights, two counts of aggravated assault for ramming the officers and driving under suspension.

He was being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center on Tuesday, awaiting a bond hearing.

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