With helicopters circling in the air over roughly 5,500 acres between Highway 20 and Lake Allatoona, Bartow County authorities captured the first suspect late Monday morning in the search for three men who fired on motorists and a Georgia State Patrol trooper that started on Interstate 75. Two other suspects were taken into custody early Monday evening.
All three were located in the same vicinity just over the Bartow County line in Cherokee County. Reports from the agents involved in the first man's apprehension said the area was heavily wooded, with several suffering cuts and scratches, and was along a steeply sloped area.
The three men -- identified as Arturo Aceves Ramires, 22, of Smyrna; Jose Salvador Vera Lule, early 20s; and a third man whose identity has not been confirmed -- are being held in the Cherokee County Detention Center. The three will be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer as well as other traffic charges in connection with a pursuit Sunday afternoon. GSP Capt. Paul Cosper could not confirm the arresting agency, saying it was a joint effort among several different groups.
Cosper said the three men were traveling in a Honda passenger car when they opened fire on motorists late Sunday afternoon. A GSP trooper patrolling the area near Highway 20 spotted the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop.
The passengers fired shots at the trooper, striking his car. Cosper said the trooper was not injured.
A resident of Simpson Circle in Cartersville told The Daily Tribune News the chase had traveled through her neighborhood at a speed of roughly 30 mph with the suspects firing at the trooper. She said 9mm shell casings were located along the roadway later, but Cosper could not confirm the type weapon used.
Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies joined the pursuit, which ended at Woodall Road and Upper Sweetwater Trail near the Bartow-Cherokee line. When the vehicle stopped, the three suspects again fired at the trooper, who shot back, before fleeing on foot.
A search was coordinated for the area overnight Sunday. Cosper said heat-seeking devices were used Sunday night, but because of the amount of foliage remaining, the technique was unsuccessful.
On Monday, Special Weapons and Tactics teams from Bartow County and several other agencies, along with members of the Cartersville-Bartow County Drug Task Force, initiated a grid search of the area between the command post at Woodall Road and Sweetwater Trail and Lake Allatoona.
The light-colored Honda was confiscated and Cosper said Monday morning no weapons or drugs were located inside the vehicle. DTF Commander Mark Mayton said it was unclear whether any of the men were armed when they were apprehended.
All three appeared to be uninjured when captured Monday. Cosper said details of the case remain under investigation.