Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
The Macon County Sheriff’s Office was called to assist the Clay County Sheriff’s Office last Thursday after a suspect with known warrants fled during an attempted traffic stop.
Clay County deputies identified the subject driving a Toyota Forerunner in the Downings Creek Road area as Benjamin Dann Owens, who had active arrest warrants from Swain, Clay, and Buncombe counties as well as in Georgia.
When Clay County Sheriff’s deputies initiated the vehicle stop, Owens accelerated at a high rate of speed traveling east on Highway 64. As deputies continued to pursue the vehicle east toward Macon County, a Macon County deputy
was in position at the county line to deploy spike strips. Owens was considered armed and dangerous and was reported to be driving at speeds of 105 mph.
Owens avoided the spike strips and continued into Macon County. As the suspect was approaching the area of Winding Stairs Gap rest area, he lost control of the vehicle and went off the embankment of the west bound lane. When his vehicle came to a stop he fled on foot into the woods.
Clay County and Macon County deputies, as well as NC State Highway Patrol were able to set up a perimeter and keep him contained.
Macon County Sheriff’s Office K9 units were able to track Owens and narrowed down his location were they were able to take him into custody without further incident. Owens was transported to Mission Hospital and was later released to the custody of Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Highway 64 was temporarily closed on January 7 due to thousands of rounds of ammunition and firearms that covered the road as a result of the accident.
Current and pending arrest warrants for Owens:
Buncombe County: order for fugitive from probation violation.
Swain County: assault on a female, hit and run, assault with a deadly weapon.
Macon County: driving while impaired, felony flee/elude arrest.
Clay County: felony flee/elude arrest, felony possession of marijuana, possession with intent to manufacture/sell/deliver marijuana, maintain a vehicle/dwelling/place for a controlled substance, 5 counts of possession of firearm by felon, trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking opium or heroin.
Owens is currently being held at the Haywood County Detention Center under a $5 million secured bond and given a court date of Jan.y 25, 2021.