Suspects arrested after car chase initiated on Southern’s campus

Matthew Higdon. (Photo courtesy of Collegedale Police Dept.)
Matthew Higdon. (Photo courtesy of Collegedale Police Dept.)

On Jan. 23, the Collegedale Police Department (CPD) took Matthew Higdon and Heather Profitt into custody following a vehicle chase that started in the dormitory parking lots of Southern Adventist University and ended in a self-wreck at 1265 East 3rd Street, Chattanooga. 

  Following the chase and crash, the two individuals were detained and the vehicle searched, according to the incident report. Higdon and Profitt were taken into custody and found to both have theft-related warrants outside of Collegedale, according to CPD Assistant Chief Jamie Heath. Additionally, Higdon was charged with evading arrest, felony possession of drugs and paraphernalia, reckless endangerment and driving on a suspended license. Profitt was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

The developments began last Monday in the early morning. The CPD had been conducting business checks due to recent auto burglaries and thefts on Southern’s campus at the request of the university’s campus security. 

According to Shawn Haas, the associate director of Campus Safety, there was a recent car theft on Cafeteria Drive sometime in the early morning of Jan. 20. Campus security has increased its patrols of Southern’s campus, according to Haas. It also has requested increased patrols by the CPD in response to that theft.

At around 1:40 a.m. that Monday morning, a CPD officer observed two individuals with a white Toyota Camry walking around vehicles in the parking lot of Taylor Circle, according to the incident report filed by reporting CPD Officer K. McDaniel. The report also states that when the vehicle left the parking lot to turn right onto University Drive, it was swerving across the yellow and white lines at around 10 miles per hour.

Heather Profitt. (Photo courtesy of Collegedale Police Dept.)

The CPD officer subsequently initiated a traffic stop at Apison Pike, but the vehicle turned right towards Spalding Drive, made a U-turn in the middle of the roadway and then turned left back towards University Drive, according to the incident report. 

It notes that the driver threw something out the driver’s window before running the stop sign at the intersection of Apison Pike and University Drive, turning right into Apison Pike and taking off at a moderate speed. 

During the pursuit, two other items were thrown out the windows, one out the driver’s side around Sanborn Drive, another out of the passenger’s side after running the light at the intersection of Apison Pike and Little Debbie Parkway. Another CPD officer joined the chase around Apison Pike before the vehicle ran another red light at the intersection of Apison Pike and Old Lee Highway before turning left on that street. 

Hamilton County deputies joined the pursuit around Old Lee Highway before taking over the chase, according to the incident report. The pursuit carried on past Bonnie Oaks Drive, the intersection of Bonnie Oaks and Highway 58, Benton Drive and until 1265 East 3rd Street, where it wrecked on its own at around 2:06 a.m. 

The vehicle itself was found to hold five straws containing residue, a pipe grenade containing residue and a pill cutter containing less than half of a gram of methamphetamine. 

Court dates for Higdon and Profitt are set for March 8, according to the incident report. 

In an email to the Accent, Haas stated that there is no indication yet that the campus car theft and the recent car chase are related; however, Collegedale detectives are still looking into it. Haas also stated that while campus security does have some footage of Higdon and Proffit walking around a couple cars, there is nothing definitive as the angle of the cameras is such that the individuals cannot be identified in any meaningful way. 

“While we do have a significant amount of cameras on campus,” said Haas about the video footage, “we still have areas that do not have complete coverage. However, Southern is working on a new camera plan that adds additional CCTV on campus over the next three years.” 

Haas also notes that while these types of crimes are not frequent occurrences on Southern’s campus, they are always a possibility, so campus security is working with the CPD to assist them in any way they can when incidents occur. 

“We also send and have sent out safety alerts,” said Haas about responding to the theft. “It serves as a reminder for students, faculty and staff to lock their doors, refrain from leaving valuables in vehicles and make sure to not leave keys in the vehicle.”

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