MICHAEL JOHNSON/Livingston County News
Dylan Knights had just left Swain Sports when he saw the suspect's car speed by on Main Street.
Marine recruit helps stop fleeing suspect
Eighteen-year-old Dylan Knights, a U. S. Marine recruit and 2011 graduate of Dansville High School, assisted law enforcement officers in catching a suspect who fled from his vehicle on Main Street in Geneseo following a high speed chase.
Arrested in the aftermath of the Thursday, Aug. 4, chase was Thomas J. Sheflin, 27, of Scottsburg. Livingston County Sheriff’s Road Patrol, New York State Police and Geneseo Police were in involved.
While driving through Geneseo at about 5:20 p.m., Sheflin failed to pull over for a routine speeding summons. He then lead two village police officers on a chase into Cuylerville, then into the Town of York down River Road and Chandler Road to Route 63, and back into Geneseo.
During the York leg of the chase a Sheriff’s Deputy observed the suspect’s vehicle traveling more than 100 mph in the wrong lane, forcing oncoming cars off the highway.
Meanwhile, Dylan Knights and his girlfriend, Ashley Barnhart, had just left Swain Sports after getting a CO-2 cylinder refill. As the couple were walking down the sidewalk in front of Pizza Paul’s, they saw Sheflin’s vehicle speeding down Main Street with multiple patrol cars in pursuit.
In that brief moment, Knight realized he was positioned where he could possibly disable the suspect’s vehicle and end the chase. Knights began running, pacing the vehicle on foot.
In front of The Computer Store, the pursued vehicle struck the rear of a Time Warner Cable van as patrol cars attempted to ‘box’ it in on three sides. At this point one of the pursuing officers had drawn his firearm and was observed to have it pointed at Sheflin through the patrol car window.
But the ‘seal’ of the patrol car ‘box’ was thwarted by a delivery truck which had pulled to the side of the road to let the approaching patrol cars by. Sheflin managed to escape and proceeded a little farther down Main Street.
Close to the intersection with south street, in front of the village park, the suspect’s vehicle slowed to a stop — where Knights caught up. He saw that the suspect was revving the engine in reverse to no avail — as if perhaps the transmission had failed. Knights promptly put his head and arm through the open window on the passenger side and turned and pulled the key from the ignition.
Sheflin, who appeared heavily built, about 180 pounds, and well muscled, bolted from the vehicle, but was immediately taken down right next to the car on the Main Street pavement by the 130 pound Knights.
“I’m light, but this fellow wasn’t acting like a normal person,” Knights said. “He had beyond ordinary strength. When I tried to squeeze him and throw him down he was dragging me like I was nothing, and he threw me off.”
Knights briefly clung to the suspect, then continued the pursuit as the suspect fled across Main Street, through the Sugar Creek parking area, across South Street and through the lawn the between the highway shoulder and Wadsworth Homestead stone fence.
When Sheflin ran from his vehicle, a state trooper had headed him off in a patrol car, then got out and joined the foot pursuit. As the trooper approached Sheflin, he turned back towards Knights, who had not relented in the chase.
Knights reported, “One of the cops blocked him off. He [Sheflin] ran back, then I just tried taking him down again. It took three guys to finally get him.”
Sheflin is facing multiple vehicular and traffic charges stemming from the chase, including reckless endangerment. Following the incident he was taken to Strong Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
In his press release about the incident, Sheriff John York described Knights as a “good samaritan” and commended him for assiting law enforcement officers.
Knights enlisted in the U. S. Marines through Sgt. Ellsworth at the Hornell recruiting office. He joins the Marines on Nov. 11.