Three unrelated incidents overnight Monday (Dec. 11-12) resulted in two high-speed chases and two arrests by the New Albany Police Department (NAPD).
The first incident began at around 9 PM Monday evening, when somebody reported having seen someone in or near the press box at Kitchens Field, the New Albany High School football stadium. A police officer dispatched to the high school athletic field saw an erratically driven black sports utility vehicle (SUV), which sped south down Highway 15.
The NAPD officer gave chase at high-speed until the driver of the black SUV lost control, left the pavement and plowed into a bean field near the intersection of Highway 15 and South Central Avenue.
Benny Cook, the driver of the SUV, was reportedly “extremely intoxicated.” He was arrested and booked into the Union County jail. (No picture is currently available of Mr. Cook.) Police sources say Cook had apparently been sleeping in the press box at the high school football stadium. Nine charges were placed against Cook, including:
- Felony fleeing
- First offense DUI
- Driving with suspended/revoked license
- Fleeing vehicle/ resisting or obstruction of arrest
The next chase happened at around 4:45 AM Tuesday, Dec. 12:
A motion sensor in the security system of the C-Spire store at 336 Park Plaza Dr. detected movement. A police officer, approaching the C-Spire store with blue emergency lights flashing, saw a motor vehicle speed away. The NAPD officer pursued the vehicle east on Park Plaza Drive to Bratton Road. During the pursuit, the driver of the fleeing vehicle threw objects from the car window. The police officer successfully stopped the vehicle on Bratton Road, and arrested John Grooms.
Among the items Grooms reportedly threw away while he was being chased were narcotics, a firearm and items believe to have been stolen in another jurisdiction. Grooms was booked into the Union County jail on seven charges including:
- possession of a firearm by a felon
- possession of stolen vehicle
- possession of controlled substance
- possession of stolen firearm
New Albany Police Chief Chris Robertson says Grooms has a felony record.
However, police do not, at this time, believe that Grooms was involved in the burglary at the C-Spire store. It appears Grooms may have been a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When he saw the police officer speeding up Park Plaza Drive with blue lights he apparently assumed the policeman was coming for him, panicked and drew attention to himself by speeding away, which resulted in his arrest.
Now, back to the situation which set off the alarm at C-Spire. It appears that the perpetrators who set off the C-Spire alarm had also targeted the Verizon store a short distance away.
Police say video at the C-Spire store captured the images of multiple African-American men, and police are working to identify and arrest them.
Again, John Grooms has not at this time been connected to the C-Spire and Verizon burglary attempts.