ATHENS — Terry Elmore was heading from work Wednesday to his farm on the north end of Limestone County when he noticed a sheriff's deputy scuffling with another person on the roadside.
Elmore was driving on Spence Cove Road and had heard sirens. He pulled his vehicle over, pulled a man off Limestone County deputy Jason Pendergrass and then assisted in getting handcuffs on the suspect.
“The officer needed help,” said Elmore, 54, of Elkmont, at a news conference Monday at the Sheriff’s Office. “It’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the way I see it.”
Elmore said he really didn’t over-think his response during a month when law enforcement has come under increasing scrutiny nationally.
“When an officer needs help, you don’t think about it, you just help him,” he said.
“It was an honor to be able to help. People don’t realize what (law enforcement officers) go through every day.”
For Elmore’s efforts, Sheriff Mike Blakely presented him an honorary deputy certificate, a certificate of appreciation and a gift card to Cracker Barrel.
“Thank goodness Terry came along and assisted (Pendergrass) in subduing the suspect, getting him handcuffed,” Blakely said Monday.
“It speaks volumes when we’ve got people willing to go out there, not only in assisting (but) putting his own life on the line."
The suspect, David Brian McKinney, 40, of Athens, was charged with drug trafficking, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault on a police officer, possession of a pistol by a violent felon, resisting arrest, attempting to elude and first-degree theft-auto, the office said. He was being held in Limestone County Jail with no bail set.
Pendergrass also thanked Elmore for his help.
“Without you, I think (McKinney) would have gotten the best of me,” Pendergrass said. “We were struggling.”
Pendergrass said that during the struggle, McKinney made multiple threats and threatened his life.
McKinney is charged with leading deputies on a high-speed pursuit into Tennessee and back to Limestone County on Wednesday. During the chase, McKinney reached speeds of up to 120 mph and passed vehicles despite oncoming traffic, according to a complaint filed in Limestone County District Court by Investigator Jamie King.
Narcotics investigators who made contact with McKinney on Wednesday afternoon were first led on a foot chase in the Salem community in northwest Limestone County, the Sheriff's Office said. McKinney is charged with then stealing an SUV from a parking lot and heading into Tennessee, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Pendergrass was involved in pursuing McKinney for about 25 to 30 miles, from Salem Minor Hill Road, north into Tennessee and back to State Line Road and Cave Branch Road in Limestone County. Pendergrass said McKinney lost control of the SUV, wrecked the vehicle into a ditch and took off on foot.
Pendergrass said he chased McKinney, getting cut by barbed wire during the pursuit, and dragged McKinney off a fence that he was trying to cross and the two ended up in a ditch, fighting each other. Pendergrass said Elmore, who he knows but didn’t recognize at first, came “out of nowhere.”
Both Pendergrass and McKinney were taken to Athens-Limestone Hospital by ambulance, and treated and released, according to office spokesman Stephen Young. Pendergrass has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 16 years, first as a corrections officer at the Limestone County Jail and the last 15 years as a deputy.
“When law enforcement is out there, it’s good to have people that have their back out in the community,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly at the press conference.
The Sheriff's Office said narcotics investigators executed a search warrant at McKinney’s home after his arrest and found 1.8 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of about $34,000.
Rylea Holt, 23, of 19759 Upper Fort Hampton Road, Elkmont, was at the home and was charged with drug trafficking. Her bail was set at $50,000, the office said. She’s since been released.