(Walhalla, SC)--------------------------------------A Westminster man was arrested yesterday in Stephens County (GA) after an incident that began in Oconee County, SC which involved the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office will be obtaining charges related to yesterday’s pursuit in regards to violations of South Carolina law against 43 year old William Roger McGuffin. McGuffin also has fifteen General Session Bench Warrant against him on charges ranging for property crimes as well as charges for Armed Robbery while Armed with a Deadly Weapon, Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime, Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Violent Felon and Assault Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature.
A deputy from the P.A.C.E. (Pro-Active Criminal Enforcement) team, while on routine patrol on Longcreek Highway near Westminster, received information that McGuffin may be operating a red Toyota 4-Runner. The deputy observed a vehicle matching that description.
The deputy observed the vehicle turn onto N. Horseshoe Bridge Road. The deputy then notified another P.A.C.E team deputy, who observed the vehicle as well. The deputies attempted to pull the vehicle over; however, the driver refused to pull over and drove at a high rate of speed.
Deputies asked dispatch to notify authorities in Stephens County, GA that the driver, identified as McGuffin, may be headed into Georgia and had active felony warrants. Eventually, McGuffin drove into the state of Georgia and during this time, the back glass of the 4-Runner shattered on Riverdale Road.
At Riverdale Road and Highway 123, deputies from Oconee County met up with deputies from Stephens County (GA) as McGuffin continued to refuse to pull over.
According to Stephens County (GA) Sheriff Randy Shirley, on Tuesday, February 1, at approximately 2:30 pm deputies from the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office were notified of a vehicle pursuit coming into Stephens County from Oconee County South Carolina. According to the report, Oconee County deputies were pursuing a newer model burgundy Toyota 4-Runner that was heading into Stephens County. Stephens County 911 Dispatch said the suspect driver had active arrest warrants for armed robbery, and to use extreme caution the suspect was armed with a weapon.
Stephens County deputies responded to the area of Riverdale Road and Hwy 123. As the vehicle approached U.S. Hwy 123 from Riverdale Road, the driver turned south on Hwy 123 heading toward Toccoa. Stephens County deputies began pursuing the suspect reaching speeds over 100 mph. The suspect made a left turn onto Fernside drive. The vehicle again accelerated to speeds in excess of 100 mph and continued to drive recklessly passing other vehicles on the wrong side of the road and in blind curves.
When the suspect was approaching the intersection of Colonial drive he attempted to pass several vehicles on the wrong side of the road, one of which was attempting to make a legal left turn. The vehicle making the left turn struck the suspect’s vehicle in the rear passenger quarter panel causing the suspect’s vehicle to lose control overturning several times before coming to rest just feet away from a very busy Big A Road. Georgia State Patrol and Toccoa Police arrived to assist as Stephens and Oconee County deputies took the suspect and passenger into custody without further incident.
During this time deputies recovered a 380-caliber semi-auto handgun and a quantity of methamphetamine. These items were collected as evidence. The driver and passenger were transported to area hospitals for treatment. The passenger was released shortly after and transported to the Stephens County Jail. The driver was admitted into Gainesville Memorial Hospital where he is receiving treatment. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured. The suspect will face criminal charges upon his release from Gainesville Memorial Hospital.
Stephens County Investigators arrived on the scene and were able to recover several spent 380 shell casings in and around the vehicle. Early in the investigation revealed that an Oconee County deputy had seen the rear window of the vehicle suddenly burst out and noted several flashes from inside that were consistent with gunshots. The female passenger advised investigators that the driver began firing his handgun at pursuing deputies. At that time the Oconee County deputy did not know he was being shot at.
Stephens Investigators contacted the Oconee County deputy and asked him to review his vehicle video to see if any shots were captured from the Oconee County deputy’s vehicle. The Oconee deputy’s in car video captured shots being fired from within the suspect’s vehicle. Further view of the video determined that this occurred on Riverdale road in Stephens County just prior to Stephens County Deputies taking over the pursuit on Hwy 123.
As of the time of this release the investigation is ongoing but evidence suggests that no less than 5 shots were fired by the suspect at pursuing law enforcement.
The driver/suspect was identified as William McGuffin, age 43, of Westminster, South Carolina. McGuffin is currently charged with Felony Fleeing, Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of methamphetamine.
McGuffin will be housed at the Stephens County jail upon his release from the hospital. More charges are forthcoming as the investigation continues. The passenger was identified as Megan Watkins, age 36, of Westminster, South Carolina. Watkins is charged with Possession of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. She is currently housed at the Stephens County jail awaiting a bond hearing.
Oconee County (SC) Sheriff Mike Crenshaw says he will be requesting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to review the defendant’s lengthy criminal history, along with the discharging and possession of a firearm during this incident, to bring federal charges as well. Sheriff Crenshaw also says that no deputies from either the Oconee County or Stephens County Sheriff’s Office’s discharged their weapons during this pursuit.