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A Lincoln County Sheriff's deputy escaped serious injury Thursday night when a suspect in a high speed vehicle chase fired a shotgun at his patrol car during the pursuit.
The chase started in Stanley in Gaston County when police there tried to stop a white van that sped away, according to the news release from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
The officer chased the vehicle on NC Hwy 27 East into Lincoln County where Sheriff's deputies and Lincolnton Police were set up along the way. Near Sunny Hill Drive the suspect vehicle crashed into the back of a pickup truck pushing in down an embankment where it landed on its side.
No one was injured.
Deputy Michael Allred, Jr. was traveling Buffalo Shoals Road and caught up with the chase at East Main Street as it traveled west. Deputy Allred got behind the Stanley Police car and the chase turned onto Highway 321 north toward Catawba County. The suspect got off Highway 321 at the Maiden exit and sped north toward Maiden.
Stanley Police then turned over the pursuit to Deputy Allred who followed the vehicle on Providence Mill Road in Catawba County. The deputy tried to get close enough to the vehicle to read the South Carolina license plate and that's when one of the occupants fired a shotgun at the patrol car. The shots from the gun hit the patrol car and windshield but no one was injured.
Allred backed off the pursuit enough to keep the vehicle in sight. The vehicle crossed over Highway 16 onto Balls Creek Road but crashed a short time later near the Highway 10 intersection in Catawba County.
Deputy Allred reported two suspects jumped from the passenger side of the vehicle and fled the scene but was located by Lincoln and Catawba County officers a short time later hiding behind an outbuilding. Officers found a shotgun, a nine millimeter magazine, spent shotgun shells and a small bag of marijuana in the van
The driver of the vehicle, Dakota Lane Sweat, 18, of Little River, SC was charged by law enforcement agencies involved in the case with two felony counts of Attempted Murder, one felony count each of Speeding to Elude Arrest, and Discharging a Firearm into Occupied Property.
He was also charged with one misdemeanor count each of Assault on a Government Official, Driving While Impaired, Careless and Reckless, Hit and Run with Property Damage and two misdemeanor counts of Aggressive Driving.
The passenger, Brandon Jeffery Bridges, 18, of Little River, SC and evidence in the vehicle were turned over to Stanley Police. More charges are expected to be filed.
Dakota Lane Sweat had a first appearance in Lincoln County District Court today and is in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $196,000 secured bond.