SPECIAL REPORT TO BLOWING ROCK NEWS. By Master Trooper Jeffrey S. Swagger, North Carolina Department of Public Safety. NEWTON, NC — On Sunday, 17 February 2019 at approximately 11:40 a.m., Trooper J.L. Craig of the State Highway Patrol was in Lincoln County on US 321 when he observed an Infiniti QX60 speeding 83 mph in a 65 mph zone. The driver of the Infiniti began eluding authorities, initiating a vehicle pursuit. During the course of the pursuit, authorities determined the registration plate was fictitious as it was not assigned to the Infiniti. The vehicle exited onto US 321 Business (Gastonia Highway) and then was involved in a collision near Lithia Park Drive.
While attempting to pass a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup on US 321 Business, the Infiniti sideswiped the truck, ran off the road to the right, overcorrected, crossed the centerline, ran off the road to the left, and struck a culvert. The driver of the Chevrolet, Jeremy Link, 33 of Gastonia and a passenger were not injured.
The two occupants of the Infiniti fled on foot. Trooper Craig took the driver into custody; responding units located and arrested the passenger a short time later. The suspects were not injured in the collision.
Troopers soon learned that the Infiniti had been reported stolen during an armed carjacking of a Lyft driver in Atlanta, Georgia by suspects matching the description of the persons they had taken into custody.
A firearm, believed to have been used during the carjacking, was recovered from the vehicle.
The driver of the Infiniti was identified as Kenton Monteal Johnson, 23, of Fayetteville. He is charged with speeding 83 mph in a 65 mph zone, seatbelt violation, fictitious registration plate, reckless driving, left of center, improper passing, speeding 120 mph in a 65 mph zone, resisting arrest, no operator’s license, felony fleeing to elude, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and possession of firearm by felon. He is being held without bond at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.
The passenger of the Infiniti was identified as Haleem Corneliuos Gilliland, 19, of Charlotte. He is charged with a seatbelt violation, hit & run as a passenger, resisting arrest, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and possession firearm by felon. He is also being held without bond at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.
The State Highway Patrol is working with the Atlanta Police Department’s Special Enforcement Section Robbery Unit and sharing information related to this case.