Manhunt nets one suspect

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

GUM—Police from several jurisdictions used a helicopter and a K9 unit to search for a man who allegedly broke into someone’s home in North Carolina on Tuesday, fled the scene in a car with an accomplice, was pursued into Virginia by his victims who were following in another car and then escaped on foot into the woods. The alleged accomplice was arrested and charges are pending.

Officers from the Virginia State Police, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Town of Boykins were, according to police scanner transmissions, looking for a man in his 20s. The man was said to be wearing blue jeans, a dark-colored shirt and a green jacket.

The search for the man centered on a wooded area in the Gum section of Southampton County, just east of Newsoms along General Thomas Highway.

Police arrested Jesse Braswell, 19, of the 11000 block of Blue Ridge Trail in Windsor, according to Richard Morris, the public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

Morris said Braswell was being held by Southampton County as a fugitive from justice in connection with a break-in at a residence in Northampton County, N.C. At press time, charges were pending from Northampton County. Charges could include breaking and entering and grand larceny, and Braswell could face additional charges in Virginia, Morris said.

“It’s still developing,” Morris said about the investigation.

Shortly after Braswell was taken into custody, detectives were seen looking through his 1995 Isuzu Rodeo at the point where it was pulled over by police: a driveway entrance on the south side of General Thomas Highway, about halfway between Sunbeam Road and Cypress Ridge Road. The vehicle was eventually towed away. Police scanner transmissions indicated that the vehicle might be handed over to investigators in Northampton County.

Scanner transmissions also indicated that the victims of the break-in came home and found the crime in progress. The burglars then allegedly fled the scene and the homeowners pursued them. During the pursuit, the burglars allegedly threw several weapons out of the window of their vehicle. At some point the man at large allegedly exited the vehicle and fled on foot. According to scanner transmissions, police may have recovered two shotguns and a pistol.

Several police vehicles and a K9 unit were seen at another driveway entrance along the south side of General Thomas Highway, about 100 yards west of where the Isuzu was pulled over. From there, authorities notified the CSX Railroad that officers were operating in the area, specifically at a crossing numbered 623-828-Y. No trains passed by while investigators were searching the area.

Sheriff Vernie Francis Jr., who was on the scene, said about 15 officers from the aforementioned jurisdictions were looking for the man who escaped.

At 3:20 p.m., a helicopter from the Virginia State Police arrived at the scene from Richmond and started circling the area. The helicopter circled several times, then came to land briefly in a nearby field while authorities regrouped on the ground.

At least two marked vehicles with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office were deployed at points along Cypress Ridge Road, and a patrol car from the Virginia State Police was positioned on Sunbeam Road near the CSX tracks.