Mt. Vernon > Sheriff Killed during High Speed Chase

| June 17, 2015


MT. VERNON — Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O’Connor, 42, was killed early Tuesday when he crashed while pursuing an armed suspect.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in an Atlanta Journal Constitution report that the suspect later surrendered after exchanging gunfire with authorities.

AJC Photo

AJC Photo

GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said the incident began around midnight in Toombs County. Deputies there were assisting a motorist when the driver of another vehicle — believed to be Jim Edward Lowery, 35, — “attempted to leave the area” after spotting them, according to the report.

That piqued the deputies’ interest and they attempted to initiate a traffic stop. Lowery then fled, and O’Connor joined in the chase as it continued on Georgia Highway 56 into nearby Montgomery County.

“During the pursuit, Sheriff O’Connor lost control of his vehicle, wrecked and was dead on the scene,” Lang said.

What may have led O’Connor to lose control was unclear, though Lang said either Lowery or Nicole Dixie Best, 36, a passenger in the vehicle, fired shots at officers during the chase. An autopsy was being performed at the GBI’s crime lab in Savannah, Lang said.

The chase came to an end near the town of Uvalda, where state troopers had placed “stop sticks” on the road. Lowery crashed his vehicle and managed to escape — for a few hours, at least.

Later Tuesday morning, Georgia State Patrol SWAT team members located Lowery in McNatt Falls, a town in Montgomery County. Lowery surrendered after exchanging gunfire with police.

“Lowery had sustained an injury to his leg but it is unknown at this time if the injury is a result of the shooting or if it occurred while he was on the run from law enforcement,” Lang said.

Lowery was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer. Best, the passenger in his vehicle, was also detained and “is being held in the Montgomery County jail while warrants are being obtained for her arrest,” according to Lang

It was unclear what charges Best will face.

The GBI is investigating both the chase and the officer-involved shooting that occurred during Lowery’s apprehension, according to the report.

O’Connor had served as the sheriff of Montgomery County since January 2013. He leaves behind a wife and four children.


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