Off-duty police officers foil two would-be criminals

Mitchell Hart and William Benham

Mitchell Hart and William Benham

LAWRENCEVILLE -- In separate incidents, two off-duty Gwinnett County police officers foiled a pair of would-be criminals Thursday night.

Just before 9 p.m. Thursday, Gwinnett police received a 911 call regarding a carjacking that had occurred at the Studio 6 Hotel on Breckinridge Boulevard in Duluth, spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said. The victim stated that a black man pointed a gun at his head and ordered him out of his Toyota Camry.

Shortly thereafter, an off-duty officer working a part-time job with his patrol car observed the suspect vehicle drive by his location at the 1900 block of Satellite Boulevard, Ritter said. He gave pursuit in a car chase before the suspect stopped and fled on foot.

"The off-duty officer coordinated with other officers and quickly set up a perimeter," Ritter said. "The suspect was located hiding out in a parked vehicle nearby."

The off-duty officer placed the suspect, 19-year-old Mitchell D. Hart of Lawrenceville, under arrest and charged him with hijacking a motor vehicle, armed robbery, fleeing and attempting to elude, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and drug possession. Jail records show Hart is being held without bond.

In another incident, an off-duty officer initiated a traffic stop that yielded a significant amount of drugs.

At approximately 11:20 p.m. Thursday, the off-duty officer was driving home after his shift when he stopped the driver of a Crown Victoria on Interstate 85 near Sugarloaf Parkway for a "minor traffic violation," Ritter said.

"With the assistance of another on-duty officer, the officers developed probable cause to search the vehicle," Ritter said.

They allegedly found four ounces of heroin and approximately a half ounce of marijuana in the vehicle, and placed 52-year-old William Benham of Lawrenceville under arrest on two separate drug charges. He was also cited for a headlight violation, Ritter said.

As of Friday afternoon, Benham had not posted the $12,563 bond required for his release.