Midstate law enforcment officials arrest N.C. men after chase

Law enforcement officials in four Georgia counties — Wheeler, Laurens, Telfair and Jeff Davis — took part in a chase that led to the capture of two men Monday afternoon.

According to multiple law enforcement officials, Gary Joe Tart, 31, and Dominique O’Neil McKinney, 20, both of Salem, N.C., were arrested after assaulting men in two different counties and stealing their vehicles, then leading law enforcement on a chase before the they were caught in Jeff Davis County.

Special Agent Greg Harvey of the GBI said one of the men was in the backyard of Charles Collins, who lives in Glenwood in Wheeler County and asked to use the bathroom. Collins was then assaulted by both men, who then stole a gun from his home and then his vehicle, Harvey said.

The two men then went north on U.S. 441 before the vehicle broke down in Laurens County. A second victim, Daryl Witmer of East Dublin, saw the vehicle on the side of the road and stopped to give aid. Tart and McKinney then allegedly assaulted Witmer and stole his minivan, officials said. They then went southbound on U.S. 441 through Telfair County.

The two men then asked directions from a Telfair deputy, who had just received a lookout alert for the two suspects.

The deputy attempted to apprehend them, but the two fled to Jeff Davis County, where they were eventually stopped by deputies there after they crashed the vehicle in the parking lot of a bank.

Harvey said both men are wanted for additional charges in North Carolina, though he didn’t know the specifics. Harvey said Tart and McKinney are being charged with robbery, burglary and aggravated assault of a person older than 65 in Wheeler County. Capt. Stan Wright of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office said both men are facing multiple charges, including armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime. The two men could also face charges in Telfair and Jeff Davis counties, officials said.

Collins is still in the Glenwood hospital after receiving injuries to his head, shoulders and arms, Harvey said. Laurens officials said Witmer was treated for head injuries and later released.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.