Police: Shots fired at officers in 3-county chase

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CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - The suspects in a chase that sped through three counties are accused of shooting at a police officer and a deputy.

Investigators said they also almost hit another man who was driving nearby.

The chase started in Gaston County, moved into Lincoln County and eventually ended in Catawba County.

In Iron Station, two surveillance cameras outside a convenience store showed the chase unfold.  Police said minutes earlier, the teenagers had shot at a Stanley police officer. The 9 millimeter round hit the windshield of his patrol car.

The driver, 18-year-old Dakota Sweat, didn't answer any of Channel 9’s questions on his way to face a judge. His 18-year-old passenger, Brandon Bridges, is locked up at the Gaston County Jail under a $1 million bond. 

Investigators in Lincoln County said the teens also fired at one of their deputies during the 37-mile chase.

“Two young lives. Two 18-year-olds that put a lot of lives in danger,” said Major Lee Caskey with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. “Their lives are just getting started. Put their lives in danger. We are very fortunate that no injuries occurred.”

Police said the teens also fired at a random driver in a minivan that was heading in the opposite direction of the chase. Police believe the teens hoped it would crash.

Eyewitness News talked with the driver of the minivan by phone on Friday.

“All of the sudden they start coming by me, and I hear something hit the front of the van I was driving and come to find it was (a) gunshot,” Jeremy Teague said. “To try to get me to swerve in front of the police officer so they could get away.”

Investigators said the teens ended up crashing their van into a fence at a landscaping business in Catawba County.

Police said they only started chasing after shots were fired into the officer's car in Stanley. 

They're not sure why the teens were running from police in the first place. But officials said they were in a stolen van.