By BRIAN GRAVES
A six-hour standoff with a young couple barricaded in a home in Royal Oaks subdivision ended with the escape of an innocent homeowner, a blaze of tear gas, several charges and no injuries.Mark …
A six-hour standoff with a young couple barricaded in a home in Royal Oaks subdivision ended with the escape of an innocent homeowner, a blaze of tear gas, several charges and no injuries.
Mark Clayton Cain, 38, of Chattanooga and Andrea L. Pridgen, 32, of Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, are now being held in the Bradley County Jail.
Cain has multiple outstanding criminal warrants on him from both Georgia and North Carolina which include felony larceny, theft by receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He now faces new charges of aggravated kidnapping (two counts), aggravated burglary, theft over $1,000 (possession of stolen property), and fugitive from justice.
Pridgen, although recognized as a hostage in the incident, will also now face charges of theft over $1,000 (possession of stolen property).
Investigators have determined the pair are boyfriend and girlfriend, and not married, as originally reported.
The odyssey began when 911 received a call from a member of the Neighborhood Watch program informing officials of a suspicious car in the neighborhood.
BCSO Deputy Chris Shope attempted to make a traffic stop around 10:30 a.m., after running a check on the car’s tags.
It was then the car was found to have been stolen from Georgia and the officer attempted to make an arrest, but Cain placed a handgun to Pridgen’s head and both ran toward the residence located at 173 Royal Drive. That happened to be the residence of the person who placed the call to 911.
BCSO Capt. Dennis Goins explained the deputy “didn’t have a clear shot” as the couple ran.
“They didn’t stop,” said Sheriff Eric Watson. “They just kept going and jumped through the first window.”
The homeowner, who has expressed her willingness to speak to the media at a later date, heard the noise and went to the bathroom in the home’s bedroom to hide from a threat which was unknown to her at the time.
Goins, of the BCSO SWAT team, said the homeowner remained on the phone with 911 until a ladder could be maneuvered to a second-story position, from where she was safely removed from the residence.
“She did exactly what you are supposed to do,” Goins said. “She retreated as far as she could go in her house. She locked her bedroom door and locked herself in the bathroom and the closet and stayed on the phone with 911 the whole time.”
Watson said getting the homeowner out was the first priority.
“They got her out fast and quick,” the sheriff said.
At one point later in the day, Cain’s parents arrived at the scene but there was no sign they did any more than to give information about their son to law enforcement.
Officials said Cain apparently had called them, but the subject of that call was not made public.
Goins said there were two negotiators talking with Cain, “but he just kept on postponing and postponing.”
He added negotiators had remained in contact with Cain for almost the entire day, with the exception of a 30-minute span when Cain was not responding.
Once Cain ceased any sort of constant contact with the negotiators, that was a signal to use tear gas in an effort to force him from the residence.
Goins said there were at least 10 to 12 rounds of gas sent into the residence.
“We found he had barricaded the both of them to a room we could not get gas to,” Goins said. “But, they finally talked him out of there after the gas went in.”
The couple was then taken out “without major incident, and no shots were ever fired,” Goins said. However, Watson said Cain was combative as he was removed from the residence.
Goins added putting the gun to his girlfriend’s head “may have been just a bartering tool.”
The two were taken into custody around 4:45 p.m. and the subdivision, which had been closed during the standoff, was reopened to residents shortly after the suspects had been transported from the scene.
“This is a prime example of the importance of neighborhood watches,” Watson said. “It pays off to get involved, and all you have to do is call us and we’ll come and help you set it up. This could have easily been a double homicide and suicide. All the credit goes to the citizens of this neighborhood.”
Watson praised the efforts of the BCSO personnel, the Bradley County EMS and Fire units, the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s office, Constable Brent Runyon and members of the ATF, as well as Homeland Security personnel who worked at the scene throughout the day.
The investigation of the incident remains ongoing.
(Banner sports writer Patrick McCoon assisted with this report.)
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