Bibb deputies jump into pond to arrest accused panhandler

lfabian@macon.comMay 22, 2013 

Joseph Timothy Poke

They didn’t capture a killer or wrestle a robber, but two Bibb deputies did make a splash arresting a suspected panhandler.

Several people complained about a couple asking for money about 4 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of the Amstar Theatre, according to a Bibb County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Deputies questioned them, but the man gave a false name, pulled the woman between himself and the officers and ran off.

Deputy Justin Leese chased him through the Wendy’s parking lot, across Zebulon Road and toward Kohl’s.

Off-duty deputy Clay Williams joined in the chase, wearing his full dress uniform.

Williams had noticed the commotion when he was getting a tire fixed at Raffield Tire Master.

He had just returned from the Georgia law enforcement memorial in Forsyth, where he escorted the family of fallen deputy Franklin Leland Williams, who was killed in 1918.

The suspect, later identified as 32-year-old Joseph Timothy Poke of Tifton, jumped a fence into the retention pond next to the department store.

Leese and Williams didn’t hesitate and jumped in after Poke, who was caught and taken to jail.

He had an outstanding warrant for a Superior Court probation violation, and Poke was also charged with panhandling and giving false information.

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