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June 2012
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Three arrested after alleged clothing thefts

Staff report

Three Nashville, Tenn., residents were arrested late Friday night after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of clothes and leading police on a car chase that crossed county lines.

Rhena L. Gooch, 19; Donnell L. Johnson, 21 and Brianna S. Ross, 20 - none of whom have known ties to the area - were taken into custody after the alleged thefts, McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden said in a news release.  

It was reported around 9:47 that Dillard's employees had followed suspects from that store to Kohl's after the group had reportedly been seen stealing a large amount of clothing. The employees had seen Gooch drop passengers at the front door of Kohl's, and suspected that they were stealing items from that store as well, Hayden said.  

Hayden and a Paducah Police officer arrived on the Kohl's lot within seconds of the call and saw the suspects running out the front doors of Kohl's. They jumped into a waiting 2001 Silver Pontiac Bonneville with Tennessee plates, Hayden said.

Police said they tried to stop the Pontiac as it sped through the parking lot and onto U.S. 60. When the driver refused to stop, police tried to block the car in at the intersection of Hinkleville and Holt roads. The Pontiac made a U-turn, nearly hitting several vehicles, and sped back onto U.S. 60, Hayden said.

The suspects' car reached speeds over 80 mph on the highway, police said. The Ballard County Sheriff's Department was notified and requested to set out spike strips in an effort to stop the car. La Center police and Ballard County deputies managed to deflate the Pontiac's tires with spike strips near the New Liberty Church Road intersection. The car continued another mile or two west of Kevil, and the driver began throwing the stolen clothing from the window. Sheriff's units blocked the car and took the suspects into custody. The clothing was recovered, Hayden said.

Gooch was charged with first-degree fleeing or evading police; speeding (80 mph in a 55 mph zone); two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment; reckless driving; possession of an open alcohol container; driving without insurance and three counts of disregarding a traffic control device.

Charges against Johnson and Ross are pending.

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