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Authorities capture suspect they say assaulted woman, menaced police with knife
Officers look for a suspect Sunday night in Oakwood. - photo by Alexander Popp

Authorities have captured a suspect they said used a butcher knife to assault a woman and later menaced two officers with the knife.

They said Steven Areizaga was barefoot while evading authorities for more than two hours in a foot chase in Oakwood.

Authorities said they responded to the Audubon Crest apartments on Lanier Mill Circle, where a woman was badly injured before being transported to the hospital.

Oakwood Police Chief Randall Moon said the suspect used his knife to menace Oakwood officers Joe Gembecki and Ryan Thomas early in the chase. Moon praised the “excellent job” the pair of officers did, saying they had “every right” to shoot in that situation but didn’t.

Moon said Areizaga was detained behind First Baptist Church of Oakwood after authorities fired a beanbag at him from a rifle. The chief added that Areizaga was being transported to a hospital with a self-inflicted stab wound.

Moon said Areizaga said he didn’t know his age, though authorities estimated him to be between 25 and 30.

Areizaga faces one charge of rape, two charges of aggravated assault of an officer and another aggravated assault charge, three charges of obstructing an officer, plus reckless conduct, false imprisonment, fleeing/elude and kidnap bodily injury charges, according to the Hall County Jail log.

Oakwood Police, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Hall County Fire Services, Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources were all a part of the efforts to track Areizaga, who allegedly fled the scene when authorities responded to a 6:05 p.m. domestic violence call.

Moon said cooperation among all those agencies and help from the public led to the suspect’s capture.

Moon said witnesses reported the suspect ran across Thurmon Tanner Parkway early in the chase.

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