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Man Wanted in Triple Killing Is Arrested After Armed Standoff on Florida Highway

A man accused of killing three family members and kidnapping his young son in Georgia surrendered to the police on Wednesday night after an armed standoff that snarled traffic for several hours on a Florida highway, the authorities said.

The man, Caesar Zamien Lamar Crockett Jr., had put a gun to his head inside his car after it crashed following a high-speed chase with the police, the authorities said. Mr. Crockett had quickly handed over his 2-year-old son to officers but then barricaded himself inside and refused to leave.

Chief Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department credited the “peaceful resolution” of the standoff to the many officers who responded and to the negotiators who persuaded Mr. Crockett to surrender.

“They just kept talking to him,” Chief Dugan said at a news conference on the exit ramp off Interstate 4, where Mr. Crockett had holed up inside his car. “I don’t know if he got tired or what, but he eventually surrendered and we were able to take him into custody with no problems whatsoever.”

The police had begun a manhunt for Mr. Crockett, 29, on Tuesday night after he got into a fight with his son’s mother, Jamila Augustine French, 30, inside her home in Macon, Ga., according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

During the fight, Mr. Crockett pulled a gun and fatally shot Ms. French’s mother, Janet Samuel, 67; her stepfather, James Samuel, 69; and her sister Lechasta Childs, 47, the sheriff’s office said.

Ms. French, who was injured during the fight, was treated at a hospital and released, the office said.

After the killings, Mr. Crockett fled in his 2007 Pontiac G5 with his son, King Crockett, the office said.

On Wednesday, the police issued an Amber Alert for the missing child and spotted Mr. Crockett’s car at around 1:27 p.m. in Tampa, where Florida Highway Patrol officers tried to stop it, according to the sheriff’s office.

Mr. Crockett tried to drive away, leading the police on a chase that reached speeds of 120 miles an hour as he raced along both the east- and westbound sides of Interstate 4, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

While driving off an exit ramp on the eastbound side, Mr. Crockett crashed into the back of a truck, then spun around and hit a Florida Highway Patrol car, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesman for the Florida agency.

Minutes after the crash, Mr. Crockett’s son got out of the car and was scooped up by officers, Sergeant Gaskins said.

Chief Dugan said the child was taken to a hospital and was “doing fine.”

But Mr. Crockett put a gun to his own head, Sergeant Gaskins said, leading to a standoff that drew more than 50 law enforcement officers and prompted the police to close the eastbound side of the highway for three hours.

ImageCaesar Zamien Lamar Crockett Jr.
Credit…Bibb County Sheriff’s Office

Live coverage of the scene from WFTS-TV in Tampa showed two lanes of traffic inching by on the interstate while a large number of police cars blocked the exit ramp.

Mr. Crockett surrendered to the police at about 7:40 p.m., Chief Dugan said, adding that the officers had risked their own safety to end the standoff during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This just goes to show you their dedication,” he said, “that they’re willing to do anything, potentially exposing themselves to this virus, no matter what’s going on in our world.”

Ms. French was being taken to Florida on Wednesday night to pick up her son, according to Sgt. Clay Williams, a spokesman for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Crockett was to be transported to the Orient Road Jail in Tampa. He faces three counts of murder and one count of kidnapping in Bibb County, Sargeant Williams said.


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