Authorities capture teen fugitives in Newberry Co.

(Source: Jody Barr)
(Source: Jody Barr)

NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Nearly ten hours after running from a van that crashed during a police pursuit in Newberry County, four teenage suspects are now in custody.

Authorities captured the fugitives just after 3:40 p.m. not far from a law enforcement command post near Highway 176 and state Highway 34.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said the big break in the case came when a local farmer spotted the group in his field late Thursday afternoon.

The farmer, who had been alerted about the teens via local media reports, immediately called 911.

"When I started running toward them, I realized what it was I started running toward them and I yelled— 'Hey! Stop!' I even hollered—police, stop and then they did run then, they took off running fast, but like I said, the helicopter had just came over and I told the dispatcher—turn him around, they're right here under him and he spun it around and he came back and they were on top of them," said Todd Lever.

SLED's helicopter located the teens in a ravine a short time later and pinned them down to their location.

Foster said a State Transport Police officer and a deputy apprehended the unarmed teens on foot without incident.

Only one of the male teens appeared to be upset about the capture, Foster said, while the others had little reaction.

"He would react like I think a 16-year-old would react, but the other three were pretty hard," said Foster.

They were wanted in connection with the shooting death of one of the teen's fathers in Greeneville, Tennessee.

Newberry County sheriff's investigators identified the suspects as 15-year-old Liam Lawler, 16-year-old Shelby Riley, 16-year-old Zack Blanchard, and 15-year-old Daniel Richards-Birchfield.

So far, a motive has yet to be established in this case.

Foster said the teens were all closely acquainted and spoke to each other via social media last night. The plan, according to Foster, was to drive to Myrtle Beach.

However, a South Caroling Highway Patrol trooper squashed their plan after he spotted their van at a rest stop on Interstate 26 around 5:30 a.m.

After a chase, the suspects crashed near the intersection of Highway 176 and state Highway 34. They hadn't been seen since 7 a.m.

Foster said the teens have been taken to the Newberry County Sheriff's Office where they await interviews with agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. From there, it'll be up to Tennessee law enforcement officials how and what the teens will be charged with.

As for South Carolina charges, Foster said the only law it appears they broke here is failure to stop for blue lights.

The teens' capture ended a lengthy day for Foster, law enforcement officials, and Newberry County residents, who Foster said can now breath a little easier.

"I can guarantee you people will sleep better tonight," said Foster.

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