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Arrests made in rural auto break-ins

ECSO personnel surround Bryson Williams (second from left) and Eric Williams (third from left, with hood) as they are taken to the Escambia County Detention Center after being questioned at the satellite courthouse in Atmore.

Two Atmore men, including a former standout athlete at Escambia County High School, were arrested this morning (Wednesday, June 28) by Escambia County deputies after a high-speed car chase and a brief foot pursuit and charged with numerous automobile break-ins throughout the county’s rural areas.

Eric John Williams, 19, of a Church Street address, and Bryson Williams, 18, who lives on Martin Luther King Drive, were taken into custody by officers of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Atmore and Poarch police departments and canine tracking teams from two area correctional facilities.

Eric Williams was reportedly a member of the ECHS basketball team and had received a college scholarship offer before he was arrested for breaking into a car on the school campus “about two years ago,” an ECSO spokesman said.

Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said he wasn’t sure if the suspects were related, but noted that each was immediately charged with theft of property in the first degree. Lambert said he expected more charges to be levied here as the day progresses, and added that the arrests have apparently allowed Baldwin County authorities to file similar charges against them.

Eric Williams was already being sought by ECSO on warrants charging him with one count each of third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief, along with three counts of second-degree theft of property.

Reports began coming in late Monday and early Tuesday of more autos having been broken into in the Nokomis area, including Stokely Subdivision, where several autos were illegally entered and several firearms stolen. The sheriff’s office and Atmore police put extra patrols in the area Tuesday night.

Wednesday’s chase began when APD officers spotted Eric Williams and two other males at a convenience store on North Main Street.

The duo now in custody fled in a 2012 Chevy Impala, while the third suspect, who is being sought as a possible accomplice, remained at the store and quietly slipped away when the police presence was concentrated on the mobile suspects.

After several minutes of pursuit Eric Williams tried to avoid a road block and ran off the road and into a ditch just south of Nokomis Baptist Church. Both suspects ran from the scene, Lambert said.

An ECSO canine officer sniffed out Bryson Williams, while Eric Williams continued to run until dogs from Fountain Correctional Institution and from a Cantonment, Fla. prison camp were brought in to help.

Around daylight, a citizen spotted the fleeing suspect running across his yard and called 911. The incident ended minutes later when Eric Williams was found in a wooded area, lying down by a fence, and taken into custody without further incident.

Updates will be provided on this site as more information becomes available, and more details of the chase and arrests will be published in next week’s Atmore News.