UPDATE - SUSPECT NOW IN CUSTODY - Claiborne man leads police on two state pursuit...still on the run
Updated: Dec 9, 2021
From The Middlesboro Police Department/Bell County Dispatch/WRIL
On Wednesday morning, December 8, a short time after 11:30am Middlesboro Police learned that Leonard B. Garner had gone to Smithfield Foods his place of employment and then left the premises. Garner returned a short time later and was found by Middleboro Police.
According to Police Captain Joe Holder, Garner led officers on a foot pursuit around and in the plant, but was finally taken into custody after a brief struggle.
He is being additionally charged in connection to today's incident. Those charges are expected shortly and Garner will be lodged in the Bell County Detention Center. It is expected he will be extradited back to Claiborne County to face his original charges there. He also has a fugitive warrant out of Virginia.
On Tuesday, December 7, 2021, the Claiborne County Sheriff Department was in a vehicle pursuit with a white Jeep with gold trim that made it's way through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel into Middlesboro. Claiborne County Deputy Rocky White identified the driver as Leonard B Garner. Garner was being pursued for an assault in Tennessee.
Middlesboro Officer Jake Partin then observed the Jeep make a right turn off 25-E into Big Lots parking lot. Officer Partin states that Garner cut through the parking lot and then back on to 25-E traveling north. Garner was seen traveling in and out of traffic running up on moving vehicles in an aggressive manner. He also traveled into the “turning lane only” passing vehicles.
Garner then traveled north on Highway 25E driving at a high rate of speed, refusing to comply with officers emergency signals. Due to public safety, the pursuit was called off.
Garner was then seen by Bell County Sheriff's Deputies turning toward Tri-County Recycling where Bell County and Pineville units attempted to located him, but were unable.
The following charges are pending on Leonard Garner.
Fleeing or Evading Police 1st degree, reckless driving, wanton endangerment - 1st degree, and improper passing .
Middlesboro Officer Robin Venable is in charge of this case.