Suspect found not guilty by reason of insanity



A North Charleston man accused of a carjacking, exchanging gunfire with a deputy and leading authorities on a chase in 2011 was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Charleston made the ruling about Lonnie Lamar Hazelton, 28, of Vanderbrook Place. Hazelton will be committed to a federal medical center for psychiatric or psychological treatment, a federal order stated.

On Dec. 2, 2011, Hazelton carjacked the vehicle of a 72-year-old man in McClellanville, according to Charleston County sheriff’s authorities.

The man told deputies that he was driving when a blue minivan pulled beside him and the driver began firing at him, authorities said. Both vehicles pulled off the road and the gunman got out and ordered the SUV driver out of his vehicle, an incident report stated.

The SUV driver ran as two more shots were fired at him, and the stolen SUV sped off, according to the report. The suspect returned to the scene with the stolen SUV as the 72-year-old was being interviewed by a Charleston County deputy. The deputy stated in a report that “the suspect steered the vehicle in my direction in what appeared to be an attempt to strike me.”

After shots were exchanged, the SUV sped off, officials said.

A few minutes later, a Georgetown County sheriff’s deputy tried to stop the SUV, which made a U-turn and crashed, according to authorities.

The facility that will house Hazelton after the hearing has been ordered to conduct a psychiatric examination on him to determine whether his release would create a substantial risk of injury to another person or serious property damage due to mental disease or defect, the order stated. If Hazelton is deemed a risk, the facility must determine whether he can be released under a conditional discharge with a prescribed regimen and medical and psychiatric care. Their findings must be submitted in a report that will be considered by the federal court. A hearing is scheduled for June 13.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or