On August 17, 2017 at 6:04 pm, two Hiawassee Police Department officers responded to the area of the Hiawassee Antique Mall in reference to a burglary in progress. Upon their arrival, the officers were told by witnesses that the suspect fled on foot into the wooded area behind Fred’s.
With the assistance of the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Towns County Fire Department, a perimeter was established around the area where the suspect was seen fleeing. TCSO’s bloodhound, Copper, quickly picked up a scent and lead officers into the wooded area. Shortly afterwards, the suspect was seen fleeing across Bell Creek Rd and behind McDonald’s.
As officers closed in on the suspect, he entered the water and began to swim out into Lake Chatuge. With the suspect in the water, TCFD was requested to launch their boat from Station 1 in the event that a rescue was required. The suspect attempted to swim to several docks, but was met by officers at each of them. He finally exited the lake in the area of the Towns County Senior Center, where he was placed into custody without further incident.
The suspect was identified as Nathan Brice Garrett, age 29, of Hayesville, North Carolina. He has been charged with Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime, and Obstructing Law Enforcement Officers, and is currently being held at the Towns County Jail. Mr. Garrett’s vehicle was at the scene, and is being held as part of the investigation. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Chief Paul Smith stated, “The Hiawassee Police Department appreciates the assistance from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, the Towns County Fire Department, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This shows what is possible when different agencies work together for a common goal. Sheriff Clinton and I will continue working together and sharing resources to ensure the safety of Towns County’s citizens and visitors.