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Fleeing police, theft suspect climbs tree

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A 34-year-old man, wielding a pocket knife, had to be talked down from a tree, before he could be arrested, Clayton County police said.

Christopher James Brown, of Tyrone, was arrested on charges of stealing a steel beam, obstruction of a police officer, and possession of crystal methamphetamine.

Brown was first spotted on Wednesday in a tow truck, hauling a 40-foot length from a steel mold for concrete, according to Clayton County Police Officer Rick Meehan's report.

Marko Cunningham, the maintenance manager for Tindall Corporation, a Morrow concrete company, filed a police report saying things were being stolen from the company's 7370 Otis Camp Road plant, and when he returned to work, he saw the tow truck and followed it.

The truck, allegedly driven by Brown, went to United Recycling on Old Morrow Road, a recycling center that pays cash for all different types of metal.

When Meehan arrived, he reported, the 37-year-old said he'd been paid to haul the metal away and he said this was his fourth trip in three days. A check with the company officials showed the company hadn't hired Brown to haul away scrap, and the $5,000 metal beam in the tow truck wasn't scrap, but was part of a mold still in use.

Meehan searched the truck, according to the police report, and found $1,770, a glass pipe wrapped in a white washcloth and a Zip Lock bag with "a white crystal substance that later field tested positive for methamphetamine."

Meehan attempted to arrest Brown, but then wouldn't touch the Tyrone man's arms because of large, open and running sores, according to the police report. Brown then allegedly ran away, crossing the railroad tracks and running into the nearby woods.

When other police officers responded to the scene and attempted to surround the running man, he "climbed over 20 feet into a tree ... pulled out a pocket knife and held it to his neck," saying "he would kill himself if we did not leave him alone," Meehan reported.

Police negotiators talked the five-foot-11, 150-pound man down from the tree.

Brown, arrested on charges of theft, possession of illegal drugs and obstruction, was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center for evaluation.