Arrested, jailed on other charges
Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies recently were called to an area McDonald’s because a man was acting suspicious and appeared to have a machete hidden in his shirt, the caller reportedly said.
The call came around 7:55 a.m. on Monday, March 1, from the McDonald’s on Lake Oconee Parkway, and deputy Alex Ricky responded, according to Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills. Ricky began talking with the man, who was identified as Jason Omar Simmonds, and Simmonds reportedly told the inquiring deputy that he thought he was in Alpharetta. Further inquiry revealed Simmonds did, in fact, have a machete with an 11-inch blade as well as a butcher knife, Sills said, noting both were rigged together in a scabbard and concealed underneath the back side of Simmonds’ shirt. Only a portion of the machete’s handle was visible above the collar of Simmonds’ shirt at the base of his head. Simmonds also had a piece of lumber attached to his chest underneath his shirt, which the Sheriff described as an apparent armor plate over the area of Simmonds’ heart.
“Prior to Gov. Nathan Deal’s Criminal Justice Reform, a person who carried such weapons concealed on their person when out and about the public would have committed the crime of ‘carrying a concealed weapon,’” Sills said; “but our grand General Assembly, under said Excellency’s guidance, removed that archaic oppressive law from the code, (so) the good deputy was unable to arrest (him).”
As the deputies do with all such situations, Ricky checked with the National Crime Information Center to see if Simmonds might have any outstanding warrants and learned he was wanted in both Gwinnett and Douglas counties, according to Sills. The NCIC revealed Simmonds was wanted for probation violation for terroristic threats, criminal damage to property, possession marijuana and obstruction of a law enforcement officer, as well as a bench warrant for failure to appear. The NCIC reports had a “caution indicator” on it, saying Simmonds had “violent tendencies,” Sills said. Even though the warrants had approved nationwide extradition, both the Gwinnett and Douglas sheriffs told the deputy that they would not come take custody of Simmonds because of COVID-19. So, Ricky phoned Sheriff Sills, who told him to tell Simmonds to lock his knife and machete in the trunk of his vehicle and then give Simmonds directions back to Alpharetta and follow him to the county line.
Just when they were leaving McDonald’s and it seemed the situation had ended without incident, “Simmonds ran the first red light he came to,” Sills said; “The deputy immediately stopped him for the violation, but he fled, laying drags, turned around and ran the same red light again.”
Simmonds headed north on U.S. Hwy. 44, driving at speeds of 80+ mph in a 45 mph zone, often on the wrong side of the road, according to Sills. Ricky followed Simmonds all the way into Greene County, where he ran another red light in front of Publix, before stopping at least four miles later.
“He is now in the jail of a sheriff who doesn’t recognize COVID-19 as a shield against arrest and prosecution,” Sills said in a letter to J. Terry Norris, the executive director of Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. “If any civilian or deputy were harmed in the pursuit of this criminal, I believe the sheriffs of Gwinnett and Douglas counties should have been held very personally liable.”
Jason Omar Simmonds, 34, of Brittany Drive, Stone Mountain, was arrested March 1 on charges of failure to obey traffic control device, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer (felony), driving on the wrong side of the road, speeding 82 mph in 45 mph zone and reckless driving.