A manhunt commenced southeast of Shawnee most of Wednesday as authorities searched for a suspect who bailed from a stolen vehicle during an overnight pursuit, and prompting two schools to go on lockdown.
Despite the use of helicopters, search dogs and multiple law enforcement officers searching wooded areas by foot and with four-wheelers, the suspect wasn’t located and the search was called off late Wednesday afternoon.
The manhunt related to a stolen 2007 Dodge Ram pickup taken from a driveway in the 1100 block of East Chandler about 9:44 p.m. Tuesday. The driver said he left the truck running while he went inside to get something and it was gone when he returned. The description of the red truck was entered into a crime database.
Just after 4 a.m. Wednesday, a Pottawatomie County sheriff’s deputy driving on SH 9 in the Tecumseh area spotted a red pickup traveling improperly and checked it further. Deputy Eric Fletcher ran the tag and discovered it was the stolen truck from Shawnee, said Pottawatomie County Sheriff Kurt Shirey.
A pursuit of the pickup began near Broadway and Walnut streets in Tecumseh, proceeding along SH 9 to South Rock Creek Road and then onto Summit Lane, Shirey said. As the deputy tried to stop the vehicle pursuit with tactical maneuvers, the truck stopped in a back yard on Summit Lane, Shirey said. The driver jumped out and fled on foot.
A Tecumseh officer assisting in the pursuit saw the driver and described him as being an American Indian male 5 feet, eight inches tall. He had long hair in a ponytail, the sheriff said.
Authorities scoured the area near the home on Summit Lane for about 3 1/2 hours, Shirey said, but were unsuccessful in finding the suspect. About 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, authorities received reports from a resident in the South Rock Creek area about a man who closely matched the suspect’s description.
While checking that report, Deputy Ray Ingram made visual and verbal contact with the man they believed to be the suspect. That area was about one-eighth mile west of South Rock Creek Road on Old River Road; the suspect ran north into a wooded area.
The manhunt shifted, Shirey said, and they thought they had the suspect contained in that area before there was another sighting reported about one-fourth to one-half mile away.
During the manhunt, sheriff’s deputies had air support from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s helicopter, that canvassed the area. A four-wheeler provided by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal police also was used in the ground search and Shawnee police officers Rick Greenland and Jon Goss brought in search dogs for tracking the suspect’s scent. “We were unsuccessful in finding him with the dogs,” Shirey said. Once the canines completed their search and had no further leads, the search was called off.
A description of the man was being broadcast to all area law enforcement officials and Shirey said deputies would spend extra time patrolling the area throughout the night.
During the ordeal, South Rock Creek school was put on lockdown, the sheriff said, and deputies were posted at the school as classes were dismissing.
South Rock Creek Superintendent Ken Leone said the school was placed on lockdown about 8:15 a.m. after he talked with sheriff’s officials. The school stayed on lockdown for the remainder of the school day.
Leone said authorities had checked all doors and windows and the school to ensure no one attempted to enter the building overnight. Leone learned the school was found to be secure and there was no suspect in the vicinity of the school.
The superintendent said law enforcement patrols continued around the school, and he kept in touch with sheriff’s officials all day while trying not to alarm students about the lockdown. Leone said he would stay in touch with them to determine if any extra security measures would be needed today.
Another school also was placed on lockdown as a result of the search. Pleasant Grove Superintendent Arlene Burton said teachers there received a call about what was happening at SRC School and could also see law enforcement activity at a nearby farm.
It was about noon, “so we immediately went on lockdown,” and brought children in from recess, Burton said.
Almost all school doors at Pleasant Grove are locked daily as part of their routine security, but all areas of the school were checked, she said, and cars in the parking lot were secured.
Burton said to her knowledge, her school wasn’t contacted by authorities about anyone being in their area. She was concerned about what was unfolding nearby and decided to take extra precautions, especially after school. Students who normally walk home were asked to call parents, she said, and an after-school basketball practice also was canceled.