MOUNT OLIVE – Mount Olive police chief Jason Hughes confirmed on Friday morning that law enforcement is still searching for the man who stole a car in Mount Olive on Thursday afternoon, and later wrecked the vehicle before fleeing from the scene on foot.
Hughes confirmed the vehicle was stolen from a residence, and later wrecked before the suspect fled and ran through property near the campus of Mount Olive Middle School, as well as the University of Mount Olive.
“There were some people who actually saw the car being stolen and it was called in pretty quickly,” Hughes said. “We started responding to the area to try and locate the vehicle, and when we located the vehicle it had been wrecked. When we got there the person who stole the vehicle had gotten out and taken off running. We never actually pursued him physically, we never saw him.”
Law enforcement officials deployed a K-9 Unit to attempt to track the suspect in the area where he was believed to be. The K-9 Unit led law enforcement in the direction of Mount Olive Middle School and the University of Mount Olive. As a precaution, both campuses were placed on a lockdown.
“We had a K-9 unit that thankfully happened to be working (on Thursday),” Hughes said. “We put a K-9 on the ground and began tracking him. The track kind of led in the direction of Mount Olive Middle School, and the University of Mount Olive. As a precaution, we went ahead and placed both of them on lockdown. The K-9 tracked through part of the middle school property, and the university property, and eventually we lost the track.”
The lock downs were lifted by 3 p.m. and Hughes noted there did not appear to be any threat from a weapon. At this time, law enforcement is continuing to attempt to identify the suspect and exactly where he fled to.
“We were never able to identify him or where exactly he went,” Hughes said. “It has turned into more of an investigative case at this point. I think he had a big enough head start on us that we were too far behind to keep up. Yesterday was more of an active search, and once we deemed it was safe to lift the lock downs, it kind of transitioned into more of an investigative approach. Our investigators will continue to work to find out who the individual may be.”
Hughes noted that the assistance from the Wayne County Sheriffs Office and their aviation unit was greatly appreciated.
“Without the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Pierce, and their aviation unit, handling that incident would have been very hard,” Huges said. “Everyone at Mount Olive Middle School and the University of Mount Olive were great to work with. We also had some citizens who were a big help to us in getting us information.”
Goldsborodailynews.com will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available.