Laurel Man Hides In Hooters Bathroom Before Being Arrested

A Laurel man involved in a high-speed police pursuit injured three motorists Wednesday before bailing out of his car, running into a Hooters restaurant and locking himself in a bathroom stall, authorities said.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Joe Gazzo said the pursuit began just after noon when troopers spotted a 1997 Lincoln Towncar driving erratically on Interstate 10 just north of Biloxi. Troopers Richard Vaughn and Philip Mitchell tried to stop the vehicle, but Gazzo said 27-year-old Melvin McGee Jr. accelerated and led the officers on a chase with speeds exceeding 100 mph.

The vehicle exited the interstate during the chase and forced several other cars off the road when it accelerated in the wrong lane, Gazzo said.

At least two people were injured when the vehicle crashed into two other cars on U.S. 49, but Gazzo said no one sustained serious injuries during the pursuit.

McGee continued to accelerate for about half a mile before hitting another car head-on in a Hampton Inn parking lot, Gazzo said.

"He then ran through Hooters (restaurant) and into the men's restroom with police chasing him and locked himself in a stall," Gazzo said.

The sergeant said officers had no way of knowing if McGee was armed so the Gulfport Police Department K-9 unit, who had joined the chase, turned a dog loose in the restroom.

"He gave up shortly thereafter," Gazzo said. Hooters management declined to comment on the incident. McGee was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for a dog bite on the leg before being taken to the Harrison County Jail.

The MHP charged McGee with felony fleeing, reckless driving, running red lights, improper lane changes, failure to yield to emergency vehicles, driving with a suspended license, DUI and operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

Gazzo said the Gulfport Police Department would likely issue citations as well. McGee is awaiting an initial court appearance and no bond has been set.