Chase suspect has long criminal past


When North Charleston police officers started chasing the white Kia, they thought its driver might have been a man who had recently tried to fatally shoot someone.

But their first attempt to stop the sedan Tuesday afternoon ended when the chase left their jurisdiction. Once another officer spotted it again in North Charleston, police grew more determined to make an arrest.

“We are continuing due to that warrant,” an officer said as a convoy of cruisers followed the Kia at 85 mph on Interstate 526 in West Ashley.

More than a dozen police and sheriff’s cars pulled behind the Kia. Instead of a 20-year-old suspected of attempted murder, the driver was someone with an even more violent history and a tendency to fight the police.

Incident reports, radio transmissions during the pursuit and court records show what the North Charleston Police Department and Charleston County Sheriff’s Office faced. Peter Jenkins, 52, was arrested on charges of driving under suspension, failure to stop for blue lights and resisting arrest.

The West Ashley resident has about 45 criminal convictions since 1979, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.

He escaped from Charleston police confinement in 1981, used a deadly weapon to resist arrest by Goose Creek officers the next year, assaulted a Charleston officer in 1992 and a North Charleston officer a few months later, and led Columbia officers on a pursuit in 2000.

In 2002, he was arrested for yanking his girlfriend’s hair, punching her and telling her that he had a bullet with her name on it. Ten days later, police said he fatally shot a man outside a North Charleston nightclub. Jenkins served part of an eight-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter.

Earlier this week, Charleston police officers said Jenkins ran over his girlfriend with the Kia. They had issued a warrant for his arrest.

But when a North Charleston police officer saw the car traveling down a Spruill Avenue bike lane, authorities thought he was the young man who recently opened fire on nearby Burton Lane.

The car hit 70 mph on Rivers Avenue. With five police cars behind the Kia on I-526 in West Ashley, an officer ordered all units that hadn’t already left North Charleston’s jurisdiction not to get involved.

“Lay back on him a little bit,” another officer said. “Maybe he won’t drive so crazy.”

The Kia hit high speeds through West Ashley and started to smoke.

“I don’t know how much longer this vehicle is going to last,” an officer said into his radio.

The Charleston Police Department was informed, but its officers never gave chase.

Two sheriff’s deputies with dogs struggled to take over the pursuit on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

The Kia accelerated to 67 mph in traffic on northbound Savannah Highway. Deputies set up tire-puncturing spikes on Wappoo Road at Belgrade Avenue, but the Kia veered into a church parking lot to avoid them. Officers surmised in a report that the Kia stopped due to engine failure.

The driver refused to let go of the steering wheel, and when police finally got him on the ground, he refused to put his hands behind his back. A police officer gave Jenkins a five-second electric shock.

Jenkins didn’t cooperate with paramedics either, the report stated. He was taken to Roper St. Francis Hospital, where doctors treated him for a cut and a rapid heartbeat.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or