Newberry Co. strawberry farmer leads authorities to teen fugitiv - - Columbia, South Carolina

Newberry Co. strawberry farmer leads authorities to teen fugitives

Todd Lever Todd Lever

Four teenagers who fled from authorities are in the Newberry County jail Thursday after an alert farmer helped track them down.

The four were able to travel about three miles before a witness spotted them, then set out after them just before 4 p.m.

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.

SLED agents in a helicopter spotted the four teen fugitives from Tennessee hiding out in a wooded area.

The group was on the run for half a day before they ran into a farmer who was on the lookout for them.

"When I started running toward them I realized what it was I started running toward them and I yelled ‘Hey! Stop!,'" said Todd Lever. "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."

The witness was able to steer the chopper and agents on the ground closed in on the group in minutes.

All four were handcuffed and walked out of the woods where law enforcement loaded each of them into the back of patrol cars.

One officer even offered a bottle of water to one of the teens while female officers searched and handcuffed the female suspect.

The sheriff told the public earlier in the day, the group should be considered armed and dangerous.

Knowing that, that still didn't stop this Newberry County farmer from doing what he felt he had to do.

"Well, this is our place, I mean, and this is where we live and we just do everything we can to protect it, protect others and we've got great law enforcement and we've got-we work with them, so I feel like I'm a part of this community and it's just my responsibility to be a part of it," Lever said.

All four suspects are sitting in the Newberry County jail. They will all face extradition hearings that will send them back to Tennessee.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said the teens know each other but investigators are still trying to determine how they are all connected and what motivated them.

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