Montgomery County Sheriff Died in Car Crash While Pursuing Burglary Suspect Suspect is in Custody After Gunfire Exchanged with Law Enforcement

July 1, 2015

Uvalda, GA – Preliminary information regarding this incident is that last night around midnight two Toombs County deputies were assisting a motorist when another vehicle approached them. When that vehicle got close to the deputies the driver turned the vehicle away from the deputies and attempted to leave the area. The action of the driver caused the deputies to become suspicious. The deputies attempted to stop the vehicle and a pursuit ensued. Law enforcement officers in the area responded to the pursuit. When the suspect vehicle entered Montgomery County, Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O’Connor began pursuing the vehicle. During the pursuit, Sheriff O’Connor lost control of his vehicle, wrecked, and was dead on the scene. Also during the pursuit, one of the suspects in the vehicle fired shots at law enforcement officers. The suspect vehicle continued toward Uvalda where Georgia State Troopers had deployed stop sticks. After the suspect vehicle ran over the stop sticks it wrecked and a male in the vehicle, later identified as Jim Edward Lowery, 35, exited the vehicle and ran from the scene. Nicole Dixie Best, 36, who was also in the vehicle, was taken into custody by police. She was transported to a hospital in Vidalia to be treated and has been released. She is being held in the Montgomery County jail while warrants are being obtained for her arrest. 

 

Law enforcement officers sought Lowery through the night and around 9:30 this morning, GSP SWAT located Lowery in the McNatt Falls Community in Montgomery County. While attempting to take Lowery into custody gunfire was exchanged. Lowery ultimately surrendered to authorities. Lowery had sustained an injury to his leg but it is unknown at this time if the injury is a result of the shooting or if it occurred while he was on the run from law enforcement. 

 

District Attorney Tim Vaughn called the GBI in to investigate the incident involving the pursuit of the suspects. GBI agents have obtained warrants for Lowery charging him with three counts of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer and one count of Fleeing and Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, all felony charges.

 

The Georgia State Patrol has requested the GBI investigate the officer involved shooting incident. These two incidents will be investigated separately by the GBI with two different field offices working the separate incidents. The GBI Eastman office will be investigating the incident involving the pursuit and the GBI Statesboro office will be investigating the officer involved shooting.

 

An autopsy of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O’Connor is being performed today at the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah. O’Connor was in his first term as sheriff and was sworn in on January 2013.

 

The GBI will conduct thorough investigations of each incident.  When the investigations are complete, the investigative reports will be provided to District Attorney Vaughn for any action he deems appropriate.

 

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