Trooper Brad Atkinson and K9 Charlie

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More than Half a Million Dollars of Marijuana Seized in Decatur County

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

DECATUR COUNTY, Tenn. - Investigators said moments after Trooper Brad Atkinson attempted to pull over the driver of a Suburban, he found himself in a high speed pursuit.

Atkinson called the Decatur County Sheriff's Department for back up.
"The call came in and we went out as fast as we could get there," Sheriff Roy Wyatt said.

The pursuit took a dangerous twist when an Oldsmobile, not involved in the traffic stop tried several times to run the trooper off the road.

Shayna Curtis works along the highway where the chase took place and said she cannot believe something like this happened so close.

"Especially that cop almost getting ran over, that's bad. And someone trying to hit him that's even worse," she said.

Deputies from the Decatur County Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene where Trooper Atkinson was holding two suspects at gun point. A third suspect fled into the woods but was later found thanks to Charlie, the Tennessee Highway Patrols drug dog.

"They were successful in finding [the third suspect] and we were grateful," Sheriff Wyatt said.

At the scene, nearly 500 pounds of marijuana was found. All three of the suspects in the pursuit were from Texas and taken to the Decatur County Jail.

Sam Splawn faces felony drug and fleeing charges. Shaun Splawn and Anthony Avila also face additional charges for trying to run over a state trooper.

Mathew Bellino said what Atkinson went through must have been scary, but said he may have made huge strides against drugs in the county.

"I mean, that's a lot to catch right there. So maybe [Atkinson] could've prevented a bigger thing or maybe lead them to a bigger operation that they didn't even know about,"he said.

Trooper Atkinson was not hurt in the incident, and those in the area say they are thankful.

"People get lax and say, 'oh there's no criminals here', but there's always criminals coming through," Bellino said.

All three men are being held at the Decatur County Jail.
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