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Gastonia man jailed after wrong-way chase, crash

A wild series of events -- which police say included a knife assault, a kidnapping, a hostage thrown from a vehicle, a wrong-way pursuit that ended in a crash, and a power outage -- ended late Thursday night with a 47-year-old Gastonia man arrested.

And police say the trouble didn’t stop there. The suspect allegedly got in trouble while being treated at the hospital.

Freddie Lee Byrd is jailed Friday morning under $300,000 bond. He faces five felony charges, two misdemeanors, and two traffic citations. Byrd is due in court Friday afternoon.

It all started, Gastonia police say, with a 911 call about 7:30 p.m. about an alleged knife assault on a woman on Fourth Avenue.

When police arrived to take a report, they were called about an alleged kidnapping incident at a nearby store on Gaston Avenue. Officers say they arrived in time to see a man drive off in a car with two women inside.

Police say the man went northbound in the southbound lanes of U.S. 321. Along the way, officers say, one of the women in the car was thrown out. One officer stopped to care for that victim, while another officer continued the pursuit. A short time later, police say, the fleeing driver hit a power pole after sliding off U.S. 321.

Rescue crews freed the driver and the remaining female passenger, and both were taken to CaroMont Regional Medical Center -- along with the original knife victim and the woman who was thrown from the vehicle.

Police say none of the injuries was life-threatening, and they say all four people knew each other.

The crash knocked out power for about two hours to several hundred customers in the Gastonia area. And U.S. 321 was closed for several hours, while police conducted the investigation.

Byrd was charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping; and one count each of second-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and malicious conduct by a prisoner. That latter charge was the result, police say, of Byrd’s behavior at the hospital. WSOC is reporting that Byrd allegedly tried to assault a police officer and a hospital security guard.

Byrd also was charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault on a female, reckless driving and fleeing to elude arrest.

This wasn’t Byrd’s first encounter with the law in recent months. Gaston County jail records show he was arrested March 27 and charged with assault on a female and motor vehicle larceny.

WSOC-TV contributed

Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107
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