18-year-old arrested after high-speed chase begins at Union County high school

Deputies said the chase began at Piedmont High School on Thursday morning.
Jordan Carnes
Jordan Carnes(Union County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:41 PM EDT
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MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) - Deputies have arrested an 18-year-old and are searching for another after a high-speed car chase began at a Union County high school on Thursday morning.

According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, a student, identified as Jordan Carnes, was attempting to leave Piedmont High School in a vehicle when the school resource officer (SRO) spotted him and began talking with him.

The SRO told Carnes to return to class, and began gathering information on the car.

Shortly after, the SRO was told that the vehicle returned to campus and that Carnes had left the school through a rear exit, which prompted a search for both Carnes and the vehicle.

Deputies located the car at a church near the school and began talking with Carnes and the driver.

As deputies approached the car, the driver began to flee, starting what turned into a high-speed chase. As the driver fled, he struck a sheriff’s office vehicle.

After the car fled, Carnes exited the car and was quickly taken into custody.

The driver continued to flee from deputies, crossing over into Mecklenburg County before the chase ended in the 5400 block of Wyalong Drive in the Matthews area, and the driver ran away on foot.

Deputies searched the car and found a large amount of illegal drugs, and seized approximately 2.5 pounds of marijuana, assorted packages of THC edibles disguised as standard snack foods, multiple boxes of THC vape pens, psilocybin mushrooms, and 2 pints of prescription-grade cough syrup.

Based on the amount of drugs seized, deputies believe the driver, identified as Jonah Robert Payne, is a distributor of the illegal drugs in the Charlotte and Union County areas.

When deputies took Carnes into custody, he was also found to be in possession of an assortment of narcotics, including THC vape pens and marijuana.

Deputies have obtained warrants for Payne’s arrest, who will be charged with 18 separate offenses including felony flee to elude, sell/deliver Schedule I controlled substances, manufacture/sell/deliver/possess controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a school, and felony possession of a Schedule I controlled substance.

Authorities conducted a ground search for Payne following the car chase, but so far have been unable to take him into custody.

Carnes is charged with possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Deputies said Payne never entered the school and there was no threat to students, although local schools were placed on lockdown while the chase ensued in the area.

Additional deputies will be present at Piedmont tomorrow.

The investigation is ongoing and deputies ask that anyone with information regarding the case or the whereabouts of Jonah Payne contact the sheriff’s office at 704-283-2789, Union County Crime Stoppers at 704-283-5600, or submit a tip through their free smartphone application.

Related: Student arrested after posting photo of loaded gun at Monroe High School

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