Drones helped locate burglary suspect in a slough in Lincoln County

Local News

LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — There were some tense moments for people northwest of Harrisburg today — starting with a suspected car break-in.

Lincoln County’s Sheriff says someone called their neighbor when they noticed the neighbor’s car being broken into.

That person went outside and the suspect allegedly shot at the owner of the car before trying to run away.

Law enforcement eventually found the man in a slough and arrested him after a short standoff.

Wednesday’s arrest may not have happened, though, if not for the use of two drones.

When the drones got up in the air, they played a key role in bringing a criminal down.

During the search, authorities had reason to believe the suspect was hiding in one of several sloughs northwest of Harrisburg.

“You can’t see in those sloughs, and sometimes when it’s wet you can’t drive in them, even a UTV so this technology enables you to fly over it and search it quite well,” Lincoln County Emergency Manager Harold Timmerman said.

Timmerman has been using drones for a few years now and recently upgraded to a bigger and more sophisticated one.

“Has been a great asset for us, we’re able to have both of our cameras on there at the same time our thermal imaging camera, plus our color zoom camera, so you can switch back and forth if you choose to,”Timmerman said.

They also had another drone in the sky from Minnehaha County, which proved to be beneficial in locating the suspect.

“We searched all the slough areas and we were able to locate the suspect laying in a slough in the middle of a field,” Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Swenson said.

“With the zoom capability we were able to zoom right in and see it wasn’t a law enforcement officer,” Timmerman said.

Without the use of the two drones, the sheriff says the suspect might still be on the run.

“Ten to-15 years ago, we probably would have called the search off, if he got out of our perimeter and might not have given up, but with the technology and being able to scan those areas and to be able to see into that heavy brush is incredible,” Swenson said.

After a short standoff, the suspect gave up without incident.

“I think he could see us he maybe tried to hide as best he could, but in the end, we’ll find him,” Timmerman said.

The suspect was identified as 21-year-old Colton Nichols of Sioux Falls.

He was out on parole and is now facing charges a long list of charges including attempted first degree murder and commission of a felony while armed.

Nichols will appear in court Thursday morning.

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