According to Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver, detectives with the Coffee County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office contacted Cherokee County Chief Investigator Josh Summerford about two fugitives possibly in the area. The two suspects were wanted in connection with burglaries and theft that occurred in Coffee County. On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, Cherokee County and Coffee County investigators located and arrested one of the fugitives, Ricky C. Thomison, 33, of Manchester, Tennessee. Thomison was arrested without incident in the Bay Springs community.
Hours after the first arrest on Wednesday, Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators spotted the second fugitive, Jeremiah Vandagriff, 33, of Manchester, Tennessee, driving on Alabama Highway 68 in Leesburg. Sheriff’s Office personnel performed a vehicle stop on Highway 411 at J.T. Mackey Drive. The passenger, Craig New, XX, of Rainbow City exited the vehicle, and Vandagriff Attempted to flee, before coming to a stop.
Knowing the suspect was armed and had made threats toward law enforcement, authorities surrounded the vehicle. When the suspect refused to respond to verbal commands by law enforcement, non-lethal gas was launched into the vehicle. Investigators approached the vehicle and discovered the suspect was deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gun-shot wound. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death with the assistance of the Cherokee County Major Crimes Unit, Sheriff’s Office, and the Coroner’s Office. According to Sheriff Shaver, the death investigation will be presented to District Attorney Mike O’Dell for review, once it’s completed by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Cherokee and Coffee County investigators were able to recover a large amount of stolen property from Vandagriff’s vehicle, including multiple firearms and jewelry.
Sheriff Shaver stated, “Today's events are a tragedy for the Vandagriff family" and added, "I am very thankful that no law enforcement officer or by-standers were injured today, and I attribute that to the professionalism shown by the deputies and investigators during today’s incident."
Thomison was transported to the Cherokee County Detention Center and extradited to Tennessee by Coffee County deputies. New remains in the Cherokee County Detention Center and is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.