Police: Man in jail after high speed chase, committed multiple felonies before

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


LANCASTER, S.C. - Jesse James, 46, is in jail after a high-speed chase through downtown Lancaster and crash early Saturday morning.

Dash cam video shows a Lancaster County sheriff's deputy chasing the minivan James was driving. He was a suspect in two business break-ins only minutes earlier.

Two Lancaster store owners are livid about the chase with deputies. They can't believe James was out of prison, after he broke into their stores only two years ago. Both of them have now been hit twice.

"Why is this man out on the street?" said Harnish Patel, who owns the Speedy Mart on Highway 9 near the bypass. He kept a newspaper article of the first time James broke into his convenience store in the summer of 2010. He still has the newspaper under his front counter. On Saturday morning, evidently, that same man ripped open his front glass door, and stole from him again.

"If they're going to let this guy back on the streets, then I want a security guard here in my store, every night," Patel told Channel 9. "This shouldn't be happening."

After the break-in at Patel's store, deputies said, they got a call from a bar called "Grown Folks" on Highway 521 just south of Lancaster. As a deputy pulled up, he saw a burgundy minivan, reportedly driven by James, pulling away. James took off, and drove through Lancaster, running several red lights and stop signs. He eventually lost control of the van at Memorial Park Road and Old Landsford Road and slammed into a railroad crossing pole, knocking it down.

Dash cam video shows James running from his car, and a deputy racing by, eventually catching him after he tripped and fell.

At the hospital, James later admitted to police that he was drunk and on cocaine at the time of the burglaries and chase, according to a police report.

Holly Nguyen is equally disturbed to learn the James was on the streets. He broke into her store -- the Lucky 99 on Highway 9 -- twice as well.

She thought she'd never hear his name again.

"I went to court. I told the judge to keep him in jail. I didn't know he'd gotten out. I'm very upset about it," she said.

According to court records, James was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in June 2011. He was released the following year because he'd already served several months in jail before his conviction.

James was arrested again in February 2012 for breaking into Nguyen's store. When his case was heard in July, he was sentenced to time already served, and released again.

Now, he's in jail again, charged with two more burglaries and running from police.

Late Monday, the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole told Channel 9 that James was also given five years' probation as a part of his last sentence. The agency will recommend that that probation be revoked, which would land him back in prison for that five years if a judge agrees.

He will also face additional time for these latest charges.

Nguyen and Patel are two people who hope this time; it's enough prison time to protect them, and others.