Suspect captured after Saturday night chase

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cooperation between Sheriff’s deputies in Decatur and Grady counties, as well as other area law enforcement agencies, led to the capture of a man wanted in Thomas County on a murder charge.

Numerous officers cornered Jerrall L. Queen, 46, near Cairo on Saturday night, after his truck was disabled by spike strips. Queen had fled from Decatur County Sheriff’s deputies, who had made contact with him at the edge of Decatur and Grady counties near the Georgia/Florida border.

Queen was sought by the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, after his wife, 36-year-old Tabitha Glenn Queen, was shot dead at the couple’s home near Boston, Ga., in Thomas County. The shooting took place late Saturday afternoon and a “be-on-the-lookout” alert with a description of Queen and his pickup truck was quickly dispatched to area law enforcement.

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Based on information that Queen had relatives in both Decatur and Grady counties, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin worked closely with Grady County Sheriff Harry Young and the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office to set up a search for Queen.

“We literally had every available deputy out there somewhere — we had deputies in Whigham, Climax and Grady County,” Griffin said. “We got some information that he might be headed toward Havana. We weren’t sure about it, but we thought we’d better send some of our deputies south just in case.”

Undersheriff Wendell Cofer got into the patrol car of Captain Pat Trolinger. They were joined by Sgt. Jason Williams, and the three deputies began patrolling Georgia State Route 111, which runs from U.S. 27 South near the Florida border, north to Cairo, Ga.

“[Cofer and Trolinger] had actually just stopped a couple of white Ford F-150s like the one Queen was driving just before the pursuit began,” Griffin said.

The first two trucks were not whom officers were looking for, but Trolinger turned around after seeing a third F-150 that was an exact match for the one described in the “be-on-the-lookout” notice.

“They were actually just going to follow him to Cairo, but the driver — who we now know was Queen — pulled off the side of the road by himself,” Griffin said.

Trolinger pulled up behind Queen at a distance of about 100 feet back, as a safety precaution, Griffin said. Meanwhile, Sgt. Williams — who was further north — had turned around and pulled in front of Queen to “box him in,” the sheriff said.

Sgt. Williams began yelling at Queen to exit the vehicle with his hands up, but the suspect decided to take off at high speed.

This began a high-speed chase with Trolinger, Williams, the GBI and the GSP in pursuit as Queen drove north toward Cairo. Grady County Sheriff Young told his deputies to set up spike strips, which are designed to be laid out across a roadway to deflate a fleeing vehicle’s tires. They set up a roadblock about three miles southwest of Cairo on Georgia 111.

“[The suspect] came through the spikes; he saw me standing up there with my shotgun, at that point he got in my lane coming at me and just before he got there, that is when I leveled the shotgun and got one shot off,” WALB-TV of Albany, Ga., quoted Sheriff Young as saying.

The shot did not hit Queen’s vehicle but his tires deflated a short distance away, at which point approximately a dozen or more officers surrounded his vehicle at gunpoint and forced him to surrender, Sheriff Griffin said. The 13-mile pursuit, which had began around 9:45 p.m. about two miles north of the Florida line, ended shortly before 10 p.m.

“The communication we had between the Decatur County and Grady County Sheriff’s Offices was enhanced because we have a joint E-911 dispatching system,” Sheriff Griffin said. “The dispatchers did a good job of informing both counties’ deputies of each other’s movements and it helped tremendously in making sure we were in the right place.”