MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man charged with taking money from two Maury County convenience stores is behind bars Monday night after rolling his car in a high speed chase.
Andre Eugene Stephens is accused of taking money from two clerks in Spring Hill and Columbia before being apprehended by the Maury County Sheriff’s Department.
The 25-year-old spoke to News 2 from jail this Monday morning and said he has a job, he goes to church, and he even takes care of his 64-year-old mother.
But he admits he is also addicted to drugs, specifically cocaine, and when he is high, he says it makes him do things he would not normally do.
The Columbia man is charged with robbery, evading arrest and theft, and he doesn’t deny any of it.
It all started Sunday when he was reportedly caught on camera stealing from the two convenience stores.
Hours later, an alert deputy spots the suspect’s vehicle. When he lights it up, Stephens takes off at speeds over 70 mph.
Dash cam shows the man losing control in a turn and rolling one time in the ditch.
Maury County officers quickly surround the car, armed with guns and Tasers.
Things get dicey when Stephens gets out of the car and is slow to follow directions. Officers can be heard yelling at him to lay face down on the ground.
“I’m pretty nervous,” he said at the time. “We won’t hurt you,” a deputy responds while remaining calm.
After tense moments, the suspect is apprehended without incident.
A day later while in jail, Stephens tells News 2 it was the drugs.
“I was under the influence. I was not coherent of my actions. I didn’t understand what was going on until I wrecked,” he says.
“I got out the car and saw the lights and Tasers, and that’s when it dawned on me. ‘What am I doing?’” he recalled. “I didn’t harm anyone, threaten anyone; I didn’t have any weapons.”
Stephens says the crash was a wakeup call for him to get his life back on track.
“I have had callings, things that slow you down. I ignored them all. This is the one that says, ‘Get it together. You are going to lose your life,’” he explained.
“That is what this wreck was. They say safety belts save lives. Without it, I would not be here. I was high, well before the robberies; it was like I was on auto pilot. I was there, knowing what was going on, but not knowing exactly what I was doing,” Stephens told News 2.
Sheriff Bucky Rowland praised his officers for showing restraint.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my guys, the restraint they held. It was hairy at one time, the suspect put his hands in his pockets and he had just held up two stores. We don’t know if he has a gun. Our guys kept a level head. They were prepared,” Sheriff Rowland said.
The sheriff also says law enforcement officers are often scrutinized in the media and on social media for a decision they are forced to make in a split second.
“They are highly trained, and I’m so proud of them,” Rowland added.