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B.P.D. in the News - 2000

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Here on this page you will find articles about the Blacksburg Police Department and itís officers.

DISCLAIMER: All articles are presented verbatim, as newspaper staff wrote them, with the exception of our correcting any spelling errors, and therefore the Blacksburg Police Department does not guarantee the total accuracy or completeness of the articles.
In the cases of significant errors in reporting, the webmaster will add the corrections enclosed in brackets adjacent to the error.
Articles posted on this page do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Blacksburg Police Department or the Town of Blacksburg.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on-line December 09, 2000

Blacksburg Teen Charged with Murder. Police: Victim Beaten to Death

By Julie Woodcock

A 19-year-old Blacksburg man has been charged with beating another man to death in front of an apartment complex early Thursday morning.
Blacksburg police charged Steve Lester McBeth, 19, of 1268 York Road with murder in the 1:55 a.m. incident. Daniel Mack Wentz, 21, of 164 Freedom Drive was charged as an accessory after the fact. Police said he drove McBeth away from the scene.
According to Cherokee County Coroner Joe Vinesett, autopsy results reveal that James "Jaymie" Lancer Malcom Jones, 24, of 116 Green St. died of suffocation when his larynx was crushed during the beating.
Blacksburg Police Chief David Gibson said a witness found Jones lying in the street in front of the complex and contacted Bob Wilson, a volunteer firefighter who lives there. Wilson called EMS and tried to help Jones, who had severe injuries to the head and face. When emergency workers arrived, they could not resuscitate him.
Acting on information from the witness, police pulled over Wentz and McBeth on the frontage road off Highway 198 and took them into custody. Gibson said many of the events surrounding the murder case remain under investigation. The police report lists the weapons as a rifle and beer bottle.
Gibson, however, said accounts are contradictory, and he couldn't say whether McBeth used both or either to beat Jones. Gibson said the motive for the attack also is under investigation. But neighbors at the apartment complex said neither man lived there, and what they were doing there at 1:55 a.m. is not clear.
Jones' family members said Friday morning they were frustrated by the lack of information. Jason Jones said his brother was a man who could hold his own in a fight, and he found it hard to believe only two people were involved in his death. "They couldn't have whupped him fair," he said. "They had to have done something cowardly."
Jones' mother, Anita Griffin, was devastated by the loss of her son. "He was everything to me," she said. "Jaymie was fun. He was like that light that can always make you smile, even when you were mad at him. He was my baby." She described Jones as a fun-loving man who adored his two children, Jayde Jones, born Oct. 13, and Jared Jones, 2. Jones was not married, and the children have different mothers. Griffin said Jones' prize possessions were a Bible she gave him and an autographed picture of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. She said he gave the photo to his son for the child's last birthday.
Jones himself played center field for Blacksburg High School, and the attic is full of the baseball trophies he and his brother won. Griffin was proud of her son's wicked sense of humor. She said he was sitting on a newspaper one day when a woman walked up and asked him, "Are you reading that?" She said he got up, turned the page, sat down again and said, "Yes, ma'am."
When Jones was in fifth grade, Griffin said, she went looking for his brother's school pictures and couldn't find any of them. Jason was two years older, but he already was something of a heartbreaker, she said. Jones told her he'd taken his brother's photos to school and sold them to all the little girls for 50 cents each. Now those memories are all the Jones family has left.
Both McBeth and Wentz remain in custody at the Cherokee County jail. Bond has not yet been set.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on-line December 08, 2000

Man Found Dead at Apartment Complex: Authorities say He was Beaten to Death

Blacksburg police officers said that a man was beaten to death Friday morning in front of a Blacksburg apartment complex. Police Chief David Gibson said that police were called to the Brugg Street apartments around 2:30 a.m.
Gibson said that the man was found dead in the parking lot. The coroner has not released the man's name.
Investigators said that they have two suspects in custody.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on-line November 15, 2000

By staff reports

Blacksburg Store Robbed at Knifepoint

BLACKSBURG -- Blacksburg Police are still looking for a suspect in the armed holdup of a convenience store. According to an incident report, a man with a shirt wrapped around his head entered Petroleum World at 220 E. Cherokee Ave. about 7:17 p.m. The clerk told police that the man came behind the counter and shoved her to the floor, then put a knife to her throat and demanded money. When the register was opened, he took out the cash while threatening to kill the clerk. He also took the clerk's diamond ring before fleeing east on Academy Street.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on-line November 04, 2000

By Julie Woodcock

Blacksburg Man Charged with Arson; Suicide Attempt Foiled, Police Say

Police say a Blacksburg man was charged with arson after he set his apartment on fire in a suicide attempt.
Chief David Gibson of the Blacksburg Police Department said Tony Lee Martin, 30, of Apartment 317, Fridy Street Apartments was charged Thursday with second-degree arson. Gibson said Martin initially was arrested for public drunkenness after he interfered with firefighters trying to put out the blaze at the public housing complex.
The chief said police believe Martin, despondent after a day spent drinking, set the sofa on fire about 7 p.m. Monday evening. "When the flames got to six feet, he changed his mind and tried to get out the children's stuff," Gibson said. Martin's wife and her children were away at the time at a Little League football game.
Gibson said one of Martin's neighbors, Joshua Lanier, pulled Martin out of the fire, but he ran back inside the building. Lanier and another neighbor dragged Martin out again and held him down until police arrived.
Martin suffered minor burns on his back, Gibson said. Martin's apartment and a neighboring unit suffered $25,000 in smoke and water damage, he said.
The chief said arson investigators with the State Law Enforcement Division examined evidence at the scene and realized the fire was intentionally set. When questioned, Martin confessed to setting the fire, Gibson said. Magistrate Judge John Queen set bond at $25,000, and Martin was transported to Patrick B. Harris hospital for mental health counseling.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on-line October 07, 2000

Crash in Blacksburg Hospitalizes 3 Teens

Three teen-agers remained hospitalized Friday with one in serious condition after a crash in Blacksburg.
Police Sgt. Mark Gooch said 16-year-old Ashley Brooke Wright of 171 Deerwood Lane, Gaffney, was charged with driving too fast for conditions.
The one-car accident occurred at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on West Pine Street. Wright and her sister, 13-year-old Erin, were riding in a 1996 Geo Storm. Nathan Patterson, 13, of 240 Garden Lakes Drive, Blacksburg, was a back seat passenger. They had left a ball game at Blacksburg High School, authorities said.
Ashley Wright was a member of the Blacksburg High School homecoming court and was to appear in activities Friday night.
She and her sister were in fair condition, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Betsy McMillan said Friday afternoon. Patterson was in the intensive care unit and in serious condition, McMillan said.
Gooch said Ashley Wright was between Dixon and Elizabeth Drives, traveling at a high rate of speed. She told Gooch that when she entered the curve, she met a car, and her brakes locked. The car skidded and hit a tree, pinning her in the wreckage.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on June 01, 2000

Police Searching for Leads in Robbery

BLACKSBURG -- Blacksburg police are searching for leads in the armed robbery of a McDonald's restaurant.
According to Detective Jamie Ham of the Blacksburg Police Department, a man walked into the McDonald's at 1018 N. Mountain Street at 10:50 p.m. Tuesday night. The cashier told police the man asked for change for a quarter for a payphone. When she opened the cash register, the robber pulled up his shirt to show a gun in his waistband, Ham said.
Ham described the suspect as a black man between 5-10 and 6-1. He had a bandage on his cheek and was wearing a blue shirt.
Anyone with any information about the crime is asked to call the Blacksburg Police Department at 864-839-2331.



SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

June 01, 2000

N.C. Man Apprehended by Police After Motorcycle Crash

By Julie Woodcock
Herald-Journal Staff Writer

A North Carolina man who deputies say robbed an adult video store was captured in North Carolina after he crashed his motorcycle.
According to Detective Greg Phillips of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, Timothy Patrick Cunningham, 35, of Dallas, N.C., walked into Bedtyme Stories in Blacksburg about 3:08 p.m. Tuesday.
A clerk asked Cunningham for his identification, according to an incident report. He demanded she give him all the money in the register.
According to the report, the clerk told him he would have to buy something, so Cunningham picked out a press-on tattoo and gave her $1. When she opened the register, the report said he pointed a gun at her and told her to hand over the money.
She gave him $800, and he left the store.
But Phillips said that while in the parking lot, Cunningham exchanged gunfire with someone from Bedtyme Stories. Detectives are still investigating that report, Phillips said, and it's not clear who fired on Cunningham or whether the other person was injured.
Cunningham then got on his motorcycle and fled. Phillips said Cherokee County deputies and Blacksburg Police chased Cunningham up Highway 150 and over the state line into Cleveland County.
There Cherokee County deputies broke off the chase while Cleveland County Sheriff's deputies and North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers took it up.
According to a spokesperson with the N.C. Highway Patrol, Cunningham managed to elude pursuit, but soon afterward lost control of his motorcycle. He ran off the road on Washburn Switch Road and overturned, suffering broken bones. A passing motorist notified troopers, who picked him up.
Cunningham was transported to Carolinas Medical Center, Phillips said. When he is released, Phillips said North Carolina officials will arrest him on a fugitive from justice warrant. Once he's extradited back to Cherokee County deputies will charge him with armed robbery, Phillips said.



THE SHELBY STAR
http://www.shelbystar.com/
Shelby, North Carolina

May 31, 2000

Chase Ends with Crash: Motorcycle Driver Receives Broken Arm, Leg, Bullet Wound

By Bruce Buchanan, Star Staff Writer

SHELBY - An armed bandit sprayed bullets at a Blacksburg, S.C., store and led police on a dangerous high-speed chase through two states Tuesday afternoon, but ultimately, Timothy Cunningham's recklessness proved to be his own undoing, said police.
Cunningham was in critical condition in Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte Tuesday night after wrecking his allegedly stolen Suzuki motorcycle just west of Shelby on Washburn Switch Road. Lt. Scott Chapman of the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office said Cunningham, who was going 100 mph or faster at times during the chase, had put some distance between himself and police when he apparently lost control of the motorcycle going into a curve just past PPG Industries.
Ironically, Cunningham skidded into the gravel parking lot of the Cleveland County Independent Bikers clubhouse. Police said the site of the wreck was coincidence; Cunningham, a Gaston County resident, isn't connected to the bikers club and just happened to be driving by it.
The chase started just off Interstate 85 in Blacksburg, where police there say he robbed Bedtyme Stories, an adult book store, at gunpoint.
Officer Frederick Gooch of the Blacksburg Police Department was the first to give chase, arriving on the scene before Cunningham had left the parking lot.
"He was out of the store and on the motorcycle," Gooch said. "He fired a few shots at the store and put the gun in his belt."
No one was injured by the gunshots, Gooch said, although Chapman said the robber accidentally shot himself in the thigh as he was tucking the gun into his belt.
"He turned up and looked at me," Gooch said. "He was digging at his waist; I thought he might be trying to get his gun, but I guess he was trying to secure it."
Although already injured, Cunningham fired up the motorcycle, which police say was reported stolen in Charlotte on Monday, and hit the exit ramp onto I-85 South.
Gooch said Cunningham was weaving in and out of traffic, at times reaching speeds of more than 120 mph.
Gooch and Cherokee County Sheriff's Department deputies chased Cunningham onto Highway 150 going toward Boiling Springs, then radioed for help from Cleveland County.
"My deputies got up with him on Flint Hill Church Road (in Boiling Springs)," Chapman said. The alleged bandit made his way to West Dixon Boulevard by going up Old Boiling Springs Road. Chapman said he's thankful Cunningham didn't hit any other motorists as he fled police.
Chapman said Cunningham reached speeds of 100 mph and higher during the chase. He even crossed the median and drove the wrong way on West Dixon Boulevard near the Polkville Road intersection, Chapman said.
By this time, troopers from the North Carolina Highway Patrol had joined Cleveland County Sheriff's deputies in the pursuit. In all, about a dozen patrol cars crisscrossed the roads west of Shelby trying to keep the motorcycle in sight.
Still, Cunningham managed to get away at least momentarily.
"We lost sight of him at Randolph Road," Chapman said.
But Cunningham couldn't get away from his own inertia, losing control of the bike about 30 minutes into the chase. Chapman said officers weren't close enough to see or hear the crash, but they spotted the motorcycle lying on its side in some weeds off the side of the road.
Police thought momentarily that Cunningham had abandoned the bike, but they soon saw him on the ground about 20 feet away.
When deputies found him, he reportedly was carrying two pistols and two knifes, along with the money he took from the video store.
Cunningham broke both his right arm and right leg in the crash. He also needed treatment for his apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Washburn Switch Road, a busy thoroughfare dotted by several major industries, was closed for about 45 minutes, as police secured the crash scene and transported Cunningham to the hospital.




SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (on-line version)
http://www.GoUpstate.com/
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Posted on-line on May 10, 2000

By Julie Woodcock

Blacksburg Man Faces Charges in Robbery of Cab Driver, Store

A Blacksburg man facing charges in Cleveland County has also been charged in two Blacksburg armed robberies.
Caleb Gregory, 18, of 206 E. Clairborne St. was charged Monday with armed robbery by the Cherokee County Sheriff's office, while Blacksburg police have charged him with the armed robbery of a convenience store.
Gregory and his brother, Antonio Gregory, 22, also of Clairborne St., are accused of holding up Petroleum World on 220 E. Cherokee St. with a pellet gun on Nov. 23, 1999, and taking $66, said Blacksburg police Chief David Gibson.
The brothers, along with Tabitha Leanne Martin, 20, of 102 Brindle Street, and a 15-year-old girl, are accused of holding up a Gaffney cab driver on Nov. 21, 1999, said Cherokee County sheriff's detective Tammie Bright. They took $350 and stole the cab, which was later recovered, Bright said.
Gibson said soon afterward, detectives with Cleveland County, N.C., charged Gregory and his brother with attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in an incident there. Both men have been in the Cleveland County jail since then, he said. Gregory was brought back to Cherokee County Monday to face charges here. Antonio Gregory also will be charged in the incidents once Cleveland County releases him to Cherokee County, both Gibson and Bright said. Martin was charged Dec. 14 with grand larceny and armed robbery in the cab theft, and is currently out on bond.


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