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Cops: Burglary suspect tried hijacking three cars, forced driver into police chase

Ben Kline

Ben Kline

photo

Darrell Thomas

SNELLVILLE — Snellville police officers responding to a hotel burglary got more than they bargained for Monday night when one suspect allegedly fled, carjacking or attempting to carjack three separate vehicles while leading them on a lengthy chase.

His efforts to escape, however, were unsuccessful.

According to Snellville police, officers responded to the Crestwood Suites near Eastside Medical Center at about 8:15 p.m. Monday when a guest called to report a robbery. Upon arrival they stopped two men coming out of a stairwell, later identified as 34-year-old Ben Kline and 20-year-old Darrell Thomas, both of Atlanta.

As one officer removed a handgun from Kline’s waistband, he allegedly “broke free” and ran away.

Kline then “ran behind the Crestwood Suites and into the parking lot of the Presidential Market, in front of Ross, where he approached a black (Mercury) Mountaineer occupied by a man and his daughter,” police said.

“(Kline) tried to take the vehicle, but the driver pulled a handgun and ordered the man away from his car.”

The suspect, a convicted felon, then approached a red pickup truck, which drove off. Kline ran across Scenic Highway near the intersection with Pharrs Road and approached a third vehicle, this one a Nissan Pathfinder.

“(Kline) got into the passenger side of the Pathfinder and forced the diver to take off so he could evade police,” officials said. “He told the driver he had a gun and would kill him if he didn’t drive away.”

The innocent driver complied and drove south on Scenic Highway, hitting one of several pursuing squad cars before crossing over the median and into oncoming traffic. The Pathfinder hit the same police vehicle twice more before another squad car struck it from behind.

Kline then fled on foot, police said. He was captured “a short distance from the crash.”

“The man still had a wallet from one of the victims at Crestwood Suites when he was arrested,” police said. “He also had a stun gun.”

The driver of the Pathfinder was uninjured.

Jail records show Kline was charged with burglary, hijacking a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but officials said they will tack on additional charges including kidnapping, attempted carjacking and aggravated assault on a police officer. Kline is being held without bond.

Thomas, the suspect arrested at the initial scene, was charged with felony burglary. As of Tuesday evening he had not posted $11,200 bond.