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Arrests follow two-hour crime spree

Photo by Jason A. Smith
Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter examined piles of tires, which were allegedly dumped illegally in recent weeks. State authorities have charged a suspect in the case, with violating the Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act.

Photo by Jason A. Smith Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter examined piles of tires, which were allegedly dumped illegally in recent weeks. State authorities have charged a suspect in the case, with violating the Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Police in the City of Hampton made three arrests, in a pair of cases, which occurred in the same area this week, within less than two hours of each other.

Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter said the incidents created a hectic night for his officers, but the end result made him proud.

"It was a bad day for criminals in Hampton," Porter said.

The first incident followed a home-invasion call Tuesday around 7:30 p.m.

Officers responded to the call, at 1 Rosenwald Drive in Hampton, according to Police Capt. Derrick Austin. He said two men broke into the home, one carrying a small-caliber handgun, and the other wielding a rifle.

"Once [officers] arrived at the scene, they found two victims," he said. "One victim had been beaten pretty severely. The other one had been beaten, and also had a gunshot wound to the head. The gunshot wound grazed the side of his head. It didn't penetrate."

Austin added that the victims -- a father and son -- were taken to Henry Medical Center for treatment.

"They identified ... some possible suspects," said the captain. "Our detectives, after doing a follow-up, identified two suspects. They came looking to either purchase, or steal, prescription pills."

Police arrested Adam Ross Wittig, 24, of Smyrna on Thursday. He is charged with burglary, aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault.

Wittig appeared Friday in Henry County Magistrate Court, according to court records. Judge Robert Godwin denied bond in his case, and bound the charges over to Superior Court.

Capt. Austin said the second suspect, Chris Roberson of Cobb County, was arrested Friday. He was charged with the same alleged offenses as Wittig. No additional information about Roberson was available Friday.

Hampton Police Chief Porter said he was wrapping up paperwork on the home-invasion case Tuesday around 9:15 p.m., when his department answered a call about someone unloading tires in a wooded area in the city. He said police were aware of the illegal dump site, and had been trying, for a month, to find out who was responsible.

"When they first located this [dumping site] Nov. 12, they set up a road check in the area, canvassed the neighborhood and talked to people coming through the roadblock," said Porter. "We have some good Neighborhood Watch programs here in the city. We told them if they heard a truck being loud ... to call here directly."

Hampton Police encountered Benjamin Vdeze Ezekwe, 43, of Austell, at the dump site, near the intersection of East King and West King Roads, according to Police Capt. Derrick Austin. The captain said an officer saw Ezekwe standing on the back of a truck, throwing tires onto a pile.

"[Ezekwe] saw the officer and fled the scene on foot, through a wooded area," he said. "He was later apprehended ... and taken into custody.

"Mr. Ezekwe then admitted to dumping three truckloads of tires at this same location," the captain continued. "He was picking tires up in the Atlanta and Decatur areas, and being paid to dispose of the tires, which he was bringing to this location, and illegally dumping."

Between 500 and 1,000 tires are estimated to have been dumped at the site, according to Austin. He said Ezekwe, a legal carrier of solid waste, was being paid $2-3.50 per tire to dispose of the tires.

Austin said Hampton Police contacted the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to alert the state agency to the case.

The EPD charged Ezekwe with two counts of violating the 1992 Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act, according to the agency's program manager, Winthrop Brown. He said cases of illegal tire-dumping are not uncommon in Georgia.

"It happens quite a bit, but especially since the economy took a nosedive," said Brown. "It's been more and more frequent."

Ezekwe was being held on city trespassing charges, when the EPD issued warrants for him, said Austin.

Ezekwe appeared in Henry County Magistrate Court Friday, represented by the Public Defender's Office, according to court records. Judge Godwin set his bond at $20,000, and bound Ezekwe's case over to Henry County Superior Court.