Pair fleeing robbery and carjacking cause crash at traffic light in Bristol
by Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor
Law enforcement agencies in three counties are still adding up the charges against a Monticello man and an 18-year-old Tallahassee woman who led a high-speed chase into Liberty County before causing an accident at the Bristol traffic light Saturday.
Carlester V. Fryson, 31, and Brittany N. Nutter were arrested when FHP Trooper G. Daniels found them parked along the side of SR 20 in Calhoun County at 11:57 a.m., about four miles from the Bay County line.
The pair had law enforcement’s attention before they crossed into Liberty County earlier that day.
According to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, the two are suspects in an armed burglary at the Dollar General, next to Ft. Braden Elementary School on SR 20, and later carjacked an SUV from a woman traveling on SR 20 at the Bloxham Cutoff. In both cases, the victims were threatened and then struck with a handgun.
A man wearing a camouflage jacket and red sweatpants entered the Dollar General around 10 a.m. and went to the manager’s office. Holding a semi-automatic handgun, he forced the woman to the front of the store. When they reached the customer service area, he hit her twice with the weapon.
A second employee, a female clerk from Hosford, was also hit twice with the gun. Next, the suspect held the gun to the side of the clerk’s face and fired a round. No one was hit by the bullet. After employees complied with his demand to hand over the store’s cash, he went out through the front door and got into a white Chevrolet truck. The woman behind the wheel turned west onto SR 20.
Minutes later, the pair reached Bloxham Cutoff. They pulled in front of a woman driving a Toyota 4-Runner and forced her to stop. Fryson made the driver get out of the vehicle at gunpoint and then “violently struck her several times in the head and the face,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The woman was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
After stealing the SUV, the pair - traveling at a high rate of speed in separate vehicles - headed into Liberty County.
Daniel Deason was the only Liberty County deputy on duty at that time. Sometime between 10:20 and 10:30 a.m., he got an alert to be on the lookout for a white pickup heading into Liberty County after fleeing a carjacking.
“He started heading east on SR 20 to look for it,” said Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Captain Lee Keith. It didn’t take long to spot the westbound SUV, also white, which was followed by the fast-moving truck “They were both riding the center line and pushing traffic out of the way,” Keith said.
The deputy turned around and gave chase. “When Deason attempted a traffic stop on the SUV, the driver accelerated,” Keith said. Nutter, who was behind the wheel of the truck following the SUV, gave way to the patrol car. Deason passed the truck and continued behind the SUV, which was going more than 100 mph.
Kenneth Edwards was one of those forced off the road. He was traveling with his nine-year-old son, Riley, and daughter, Ellery, who is two, as they headed to Hosford around 10:20 a.m. “I was on SR 20 between the forest tower and Prison Road,” he said. Suddenly, he saw an SUV approaching him head on, traveling down the middle of the road. He’d seen the SUV bypass a long line of cars and suddenly realized how fast the vehicle was going. Then he spotted the deputy’s vehicle and realized that the speeding SUV was not going to get in the eastbound lane.
Edwards said he was traveling 62 mph and didn’t have much time to react. “I snatched the car into the ditch going full speed,” he said. “Then, as I looked back, all the cars in that lane were being run off the road.” He added, “The kids were a little rattled but they were fine.”
As the two suspect vehicles and the deputy neared Hoecake Road in Bristol, the SUV started to slow down. The pickup then pulled out and drove around the patrol car. When Nutter suddenly pulled in front of Deason, she began slowing down to separate him from Fryson as they continued into Bristol.
Both slowed down as they neared the intersection. Fryson ran into a westbound car ahead of him in the adjoining lane, hitting it from behind and tearing off the driver’s side door. The car came to rest in the north part of the intersection, just off SR 20 and on CR 12.
The SUV kept going, sliding and then overturning several times before coming to a stop right-side up with Fryson still inside. Nutter pulled over in the Chevrolet pickup, jumped out and started breaking windows in the SUV with a tool from the truck. She helped Fryson out of the SUV and the two sped off in the truck around 10:45 a.m., according to Keith. As the two were making their getaway, the deputy went to help the Bristol woman whose car was struck.
“It happened so fast,” Keith said, explaining that the deputy was the only law enforcement officer there when Fryson hit a car at the traffic light. “He was trying to render aid to Tammy O’Brian, whose car was hit, while also doing traffic control, crowd control and maintain the crime scene,” he said. The deputy only knew that the couple headed west but did not see if they went under the bridge or over it, he explained.
The handgun was left behind in the wrecked SUV.
A dispatcher contacted the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office with descriptions of the two vehicles. The Blountstown Police Department was not notified.
“The whole thing - from Ft. Braden to Bristol - took them about 15 or 16 minutes,” Keith said about the suspects. “They acted like they had nothing to lose,” he said, comparing them to a latter-day Bonnie and Clyde.
Keith commended Deason’s actions, noting that the 23-year-old deputy who’s been on the job a little over a year, “demonstrated quick thinking and common sense, and took action to protect both the victim in the wreck and the crime scene.”
By the time the suspects got off the bridge, they had slowed down before making their way into town where people were gathered for that morning’s Christmas on the Square event.
The pair immediately tried to get another vehicle, according to Calhoun County Sheriff Glenn Kimbrel. He said the two stopped at a repair shop across from the Calhoun County Courthouse (and just a half block from the county jail) where they offered an employee several thousand dollars for a vehicle “but there wasn’t one for sale there,” Kimbrel said.
The suspects then stopped at Mallory Towing, where they also attempted to buy a vehicle. An employee told them they did not have one available. The pair didn’t leave empty-handed, according to the sheriff, who said they stole the employee’s cell phone.
They managed to get through town unnoticed and made their way along SR 20 until they were four miles from the Bay County line. There, they pulled over and flagged down a passing vehicle.
Trooper Daniels spotted them while looking for the pickup and was soon joined at the scene by more troopers, the sheriff and deputies.
Kimbrel said a large amount of cash was found in the truck.
The pair were taken to the Calhoun County Jail and later interviewed by investigators from Leon County. As of Tuesday, Fryson was being held at the Liberty County Jail and Nutter was transferred to Jackson County Jail.
Detectives are following up leads that the pair may have committed others crimes before going to the Ft. Braden store. Anyone with information about crimes in the Mission Road and Appleyard Drive areas are urged to contact the Leon County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 606-3300.