SAVANNAH, GA (June 9, 2012)  A 27-year-old Savannah man who attacked a Chatham County deputy Friday, stole an ambulance and led dozens of police vehicles and a helicopter on a low-speed pursuit has been charged with theft by taking and removal of a firearm from a public official.

 Melvin Williams III  resisted arrest and was tased by Georgia state troopers who had boxed the ambulance in with their cars at Montgomery Street and Staley Avenue about 9 p.m. Williams was transported by another ambulance to be examined and then transferred to the Chatham County Detention Center.

 Williams had been taken to St. Joseph Hospital Friday morning after Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police and emergency medical technicians had been called to his residence. He was awaiting transport to Georgia Regional Hospital and was being guarded by the off-duty deputy about 7:23 p.m. when they stepped outside to allow him to smoke a cigarette. As they started to re-enter the hospital, Williams struggled with the deputy and attempted to remove a gun from his holster. Then Williams climbed into an unlocked Southside Fire EMS ambulance and drove away.

 SCMPD patrol officers attempted to stop the ambulance, but backed away when it became apparent Williams had no intention of stopping. Instead, undercover officers in unmarked cars followed the ambulance through the city and into Garden City and Port Wentworth before it returned to Savannah.

 Several attempts to stop the ambulance using spiked sticks failed and Williams, driving with three flattened tires, struck several cars.

 Police opted to stop the ambulance by surrounding and blocking it at Montgomery and Staley to prevent it from entering the Derenne Avenue area where traffic was high and injuries could occur. By that time it was being accompanied by dozens of police cars that were following it and diverting traffic out of its path. An SCMPD helicopter hovered over the procession.

 SCMPD West Chatham Precinct Commander Phillip Reilley praised the cooperation of the officers from his department, Garden City, Port Wentworth and the Georgia State Patrol Nighthawk Division for their handling of the situation.

 “Everyone used the proper restraint to avoid injuries and excessive damage to property,” Capt. Reilley said. “People could have been injured and that was an expensive piece of equipment that could have done a lot of damage. They did a fantastic job of preventing both.”

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