Crime & Courts

2 felons arrested after high-speed I-77 chase ends in crash

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says two people were arrested Sunday morning after a high-speed Interstate 77 chase that ended in a crash.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says two people were arrested Sunday morning after a high-speed Interstate 77 chase that ended in a crash. WBTV

A high-speed chase on Interstate 77 and through several neighborhoods led to the arrest of two convicted felons Sunday morning.

Tomonta Simmons, 24, and Deontaye Smith, 23, face several charges including resisting arrest and assault on a trooper.

The two were going more than 100 mph on I-77 near West Harris Boulevard around 12:08 a.m. when Trooper G. Alpman spotted the vehicle, he said.

On Capps Hill Mine Road the suspects reached 110 mph and cut off their lights, Alpman said. Later, they rammed the trooper’s car and showed a gun.

No shots were fired, and the gun wasn’t present when Simmons and Smith were stopped, Alpman said. The trooper said he believes the pair tossed it out of a window.

Alpman pursued Simmons and Smith 7 to 10 miles and through several neighborhoods. The pair eventually crashed when trying to turn on to the Brookshire Freeway.

Alpman was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. At least one suspect was also treated for minor injuries, the Observer’s news partner WBTV reported.

Alpman said he took the car’s initial speed and reckless driving – and later, the gun – “as a threat to the public.”

Highway Patrol policy lists several reasons for initiating a pursuit. They include:

▪ When the suspect presents an imminent threat to others.

▪ When the suspect is driving dangerously.

▪ When the suspect has committed or attempted to commit a serious crime.

▪ When the suspect is being sought for his or her involvement in a previous violent felony.

But it’s important to weigh the risks of a pursuit, said Vivian Lord, a UNC-Charlotte professor of criminal justice and criminology: Could chasing a vehicle make the situation more dangerous?

Sharon Davis, 66, of Charlotte and a friend were among a group of cars leaving a Valentine party at a nearby American Legion.

It was around 12:15 a.m. when the suspects, with the state trooper following, made a tire-screeching left about 25 feet in front of them.

“We thought we were dead,” Davis said. “We had no where to go. No where.”

Davis said the two cars made a U-turn and sped by them a second time.

“They put a lot of lives in danger,” she said.

Alpman told the Observer that he didn’t pass a vehicle while pursuing in the neighborhood.

Both Simmons and Smith have served time in prison and have lengthy criminal records, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

Simmons has been convicted of more than 15 felonies since 2010, including larceny, stealing a gun, breaking and entering vehicles, robbery and cutting off an electronic monitor.

He was released from prison about a year ago, after serving a year and eight months for larceny over $1,500, records show.

Smith has been convicted of at least four felonies. He, too, was recently released from prison after serving time for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Simmons was charged with fleeing to elude arrest and assault with a deadly weapons. He is being held on $10,000 bond, according the Mecklenburg Sheriff's Office.

Smith’s specific charges are not listed on the sheriff’s website as of Sunday afternoon.

Gavin Off: 704-358-6038