October 28, 2010 Contact: Marian O'Briant
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Three in custody as a result of evading; Sheriff seeks help in locating a fugitive
Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong announced three men are in custody following a two hour search in South Blount County this morning after the driver evaded arrest, and then fled the scene on foot following an accident.
In addition, Sheriff Berrong is asking for the community's assistance in locating another suspect from an unrelated pursuit and subsequent search last night for that suspect in the same area as this morning's search.
"Our response and actions to the search this morning are a direct result of a search we conducted last night in the same area for a different suspect," Sheriff Berrong said. "Initially, the description of one of the suspects this morning matched the description of our suspect yesterday."
Mark Daniel Lethco, 21, Reagan Mill Road, Clinton Andrew Hackler, 20, and Donald Lee Dustin Blevins, 20, Reagan Mill Road, are all three charged with felony evading arrest as a result of this morning's search. Lethco, the driver of the vehicle, was also cited with speeding (89 mph in a 50 mph zone), driving an unregistered vehicle, and no insurance. Bond amounts and court dates have not yet been set. Lethco, the driver, has no prior record in Blount County. All three suspects are being held in the Blount County Detention Facility.
At around 9:30 this morning, a Blount County deputy attempted a traffic stop for speeding on a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier on U.S. Highway 129 near Southside Drive. Instead of stopping, the vehicle sped up and turned onto Southside Drive. After striking a large bush on Southside Drive, the vehicle came to a stop and the three suspects jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a wooded area. Several additional deputies, as well as Knox County Sheriff's Office Air Watch, and the Loudon County Sheriff's Office, responded to assist in the search. A one mile perimeter was established from Huffstetler Road to Walker School Road and U.S. Highway 129. At around 11:15, deputies found the three suspects hiding in a barn in a wooded area off Huffstetler Road.
Sheriff Berrong is also asking for the community's assistance in locating Steve Brian Bright, age 42, Old Floyd Porter Road, Maryville, who is a suspect in another pursuit and search that took place Wednesday night in the same area of Blount County that this morning's search took place.
Bright has active warrants on file for aggravated assault, felony evading arrest, reckless endangerment, possession of stolen property, theft of a motor vehicle, and violation of probation.
Wednesday evening, Sheriff's deputies received information that a man attempted unsuccessfully to steal a vehicle from the parking lot of the Brick Mill Market on Brick Mill Road. He left the parking lot in a truck he arrived in. Through the course of their investigation, deputies learned the suspect was Steve Brian Bright. Later in the evening, deputies spotted a truck and the suspect matching that description in a parking lot at the U.S. Highway 129 Junction at U.S. Highway 411 South. When Bright saw the deputies, he left the parking lot, almost striking a deputy who was approaching his vehicle. He fled in the truck onto U.S. 411 North, driving in a reckless manner, and spilling wood out of the back of the truck onto the roadway. Deputies pursued him on secondary roads, with Bright driving recklessly and running stop signs.
The deputies lost contact with Bright until later in the night, when they received a tip that he was seen at a business in Vonore in Monroe County. After locating him there, another pursuit ensued on U.S. 411 north out of Monroe County, and back into Blount County. Bright wrecked the vehicle he was driving - a stolen Ford F250 pick-up truck - on Lee Shirley Road, then fled on foot from the scene. Deputies and K-9's attempted to track him throughout the early morning hours.
Both pick-up trucks Bright was driving Wednesday night are stolen.
If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of Steve Brian Bright, they are asked to call the Sheriff's Office anonymous 24-hour Crime Hotline at 273-5200, Blount County Dispatch at 983-3620, or the Sheriff's Office Text-a-Tip link, through the Sheriff's Office web site, www.bcso.com.
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