Oakman assistant police chief Jack Cooley was driving through Parrish off duty when he observed two suspicious vehicles near a local church. Cooley called Parrish police to the scene, but before they arrived, he said he witnessed the exchange of brown paper bags between the vehicles, as well as a possible exchange of guns.
When Parrish police arrived on scene, they said one vehicle sped away. The other vehicle and its two occupants, Jeremy Michael Bruner, 34, of Parrish, and Rebekah Black, 25, of Jasper, were taken into custody by Parrish police.
Parrish officer Chuck Lilley pursued the fleeing vehicle, which went from Parrish’s main street, down Old Tuscaloosa Road, up Highway 69 and back toward Oakman. The vehicle finally struck a utility pole in Oakman and stopped. The driver of that vehicle fled on foot. The passenger, who officers said was holding his hands out the window during the chase, complied with officer instructions and cooperated fully. Police are still investigating his involvement in the incidents.
Tracking dogs from Donaldson Correctional were brought in and located the fleeing driver, Jeffery Patton, 24, of Oakman.
Police said he will be charged with reckless driving, attempting to elude and resisting arrest, along with a litany of traffic charges from the chase.
Police recovered a large quantity of crystal meth from the vehicles, as well as “dirty meth,” small amounts of marijuana, pills, chemicals used to make meth, needles and various other items of drug paraphernalia, scales, plastic bags and large amounts of cash, banded together. They also recovered two shotguns, one of which is not street legal, according to the officers. The location of the alleged drug deal and the proximity to a church, school and government housing mean that the drug and trafficking charges could be increased, as well.
Charges will likely include trafficking and numerous other drug and criminal charges, including the possibility of a felon in possession of guns. Those arrested were being held in the Parrish jail Monday but were scheduled to be transported to the Walker County Jail.
Oakman Police Chief Chad Gurganus and Parrish Police Chief Roderick McConico both responded to the scene Sunday and said this was just the beginning of the departments working together. They often consult on similar cases in the two cities, noting that criminals arrested for drugs or theft cases often bounce back and forth between the cities, or stay in the “dead space” between the two cities. The chiefs hope to eliminate much of that by working together and sharing information.
“There’s strength in numbers,” McConico said.
Gurganus agreed that the departments needed to support each other and pointed to this case as a starting point for that partnership.
The two chiefs also commended and thanked the departments that assisted them during the chase, which included Cordova, Jasper and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office