Friday, August 12, 2011
DeHart taken into custody after I-81 crash, sheriff's office says
Police are conducting a search in Montgomery County, just outside of Radford. Residents from Tyler Road to Rock Road and the area surrounding the Radford Travel Center are advised to lock their doors, take keys from parked vehicles and be on the lookout.
Matt Gentry | The Roanoke Times
A Virginia State Police swat team assisted by a dog team searches the forested roadside of Lovely Mount Road for Edward Hamilton DeHart Jr., 48, of Riner, in Montgomery County Friday.
Matt Gentry | The Roanoke Times
Police investigators look over a white pick-up truck, left, that was abandoned off of Lovely Mount Road by Edward Hamilton DeHart Jr., 48, of Riner, in Montgomery County Friday. DeHart Jr. escaped the pre-dawn standoff with police near the Sunoco/Radford Travel Center on Tyler Road and continues to elude a police manhunt as of Friday afternoon.
Correction (Aug. 12, 2011: 9:25 p.m.): Police were searching the area between Tyler Road and Rock Road and the area surrounding the Radford Travel Center, and they advised residents of this locality to take extra precautions. A previous version of this story was incorrect in identifying the locality. | Our corrections policy
Following a daylong manhunt, Edward Hamilton DeHart Jr. was taken into custody after crashing on Interstate 81 during a police pursuit, the Montgomery Sheriff’s Office said about midnight Friday.
No officers were injured during the pursuit that ended at Exit 118 — the exit leading to Shawsville and Elliston — on I-81, the sheriff’s office said.
Police believe Edward DeHart Jr. has stolen another car, according to Sheriff Tommy Whitt.
About 9:40 p.m. the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office received a call from an alarm company about a residential alarm on Wintergreen Road, Whitt said. Within 30 seconds, deputies were on scene and found that a car had backed through the closed door of a detached garage.
The vehicle is a 2003 silver-gray Toyota Avalon. The vehicle may have rear end damage, he said.
An accused car-stealing burglar may have been injured early this morning after Montgomery County sheriff's deputies opened fire on him at a service station, the Montgomery County sheriff said this afternoon.
Edward Hamilton DeHart Jr., 48, of Riner, escaped the pre-dawn standoff near the Sunoco/Radford Travel Center on Tyler Road and continues to elude a police manhunt, said Sheriff Tommy Whitt.
"He could very well have gotten out of the area," Whitt said. "He's very crafty at his trade of stealing vehicles and evading law enforcement."
But Whitt said they will continue to search the entire around that section of Tyler Road until they are comfortable that DeHart has left the area.
Police advised Montgomery County residents to lock their doors, take keys from parked vehicles and be on the lookout for DeHart.
DeHart was hurt after deputies, armed with rifles and shotguns and suited in body armor, were sent to check a service station clerk's tip at 12:40 a.m. that the wanted man was fueling a pickup.
The deputies saw DeHart sitting motionless in the station parking lot, then watched him bend to the passenger side of the vehicle and pop back upright, Whitt said.
The deputies, "in a very loud, audible voice, told Mr. DeHart to show his hands" and he refused, Whitt said.
DeHart threw his pickup into reverse and one of the deputies fired one shot, Whitt said. Then the vehicle lurched forward and the deputies fired more shots, the sheriff said.
DeHart drove the pickup over a pile of rocks and other debris, through a hayfield and abandoned it, with the engine leaking oil and the undercarriage damaged, near a pond, said Whitt.
DeHart "obviously is not very badly wounded, if he's wounded at all," Whitt said. He could have been hit by a gunshot or "very well have been injured from the way he drove the truck," said Whitt.
State police will investigate the shooting, said Sgt. Rob Carpentieri.
Montgomery County law enforcers had been searching for DeHart "covertly and overtly for the last two weeks," Whitt said. The sheriff said he's wanted for stealing multiple vehicles, breaking and entering, larceny and destruction of property.
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Law enforcement officers are searching the area of Tyler Road in Montgomery County near Radford today for a wanted Riner man after a gas station clerk reported seeing him early this morning and the suspect was wounded by gunfire.
A clerk at the Sunoco/Radford Travel Center on Tyler Road called 911 about 1 a.m. to report that a man pumping gas matched Edward Hamilton DeHart Jr.'s description, according to Lt. Jimmy Bowyer of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.
Three deputies responded and encountered DeHart, 48, of Riner. Shots were fired and DeHart was wounded, Bowyer said.
The sheriff's office is not saying whether DeHart fired at the deputies, Bowyer said. He did say no deputies were hurt and they believe DeHart was wounded by gunfire but would not elaborate.
DeHart fled from deputies this morning in a truck believed stolen Wednesday. The truck and a shotgun have been recovered, but the sheriff's office believes that DeHart is still armed and dangerous.
Roughly half a dozen law enforcement officers from multiple localities and the Virginia State Police were at the scene at 8:50 a.m. Police have taped off a gravel parking lot near the travel center. Small yellow evidence markers were visible on the ground near a state police investigations vehicle.
Edward Hamilton DeHart Jr.
DeHart was last seen wearing a blue-gray T-shirt and blue jeans.
Virginia State Police, Radford, Christiansburg and Blacksburg police and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office are conducting a wide-scale search of the area near the travel center now.
Officers seem to be focusing their efforts searching a wooded area next to the travel center.
Bowyer said officers are conducting what he called a "general area search," meaning they are not searching one specific area but the entire area from Tyler Road to Rock Road and the area surrounding the Radford Travel Center.
He said the search is expected to continue indefinitely.
"We're focused on finding him right now," he said.
Deputies are responding to calls from citizens and going to residences "to make sure they are secure," he said
DeHart was last seen wearing a blue-gray T-shirt and blue jeans, Bowyer said.
The search is near Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, which is just off Tyler Road in Montgomery County.
Ricky McCroskey, manager on duty at Sunoco today, wasn't there when DeHart came into the convenience store, but he got a report from the clerk who was on duty.
McCroskey said the male clerk told him that he recognized DeHart when he came in sometime between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m., because a flier with the wanted man's picture was posted behind the counter. At the time, the flier was visible only to employees but it's now posted on the store's counter.
After making a purchase, the clerk told McCroskey that DeHart went outside and sat in the truck that had been reported stolen. The clerk locked the store's door and called the police. They showed up a short time later and confronted him.
Ira Duncan, who lives nearby off Rock Road, was having coffee in the Sunoco station this morning.
He said he was woken up around 4 a.m. Friday by the sound of a helicopter circling above. At first, he thought it was headed to the nearby hospital.
"I just wondered why they were they flying around," he said. "Now I know what them fellas were doing."
The helicopter was still circling the scene this morning but recently landed in a nearby field.
Follow reporter @AmyFawcettNRV as she reports from the scene by Twitter
Radford city officials posted this alert on the city's Facebook page this morning:
Emergency notification: Citizens should be alert and cautious due to police personnel searching for a wanted subject named Edward Dehart, Jr. Last seen near the 109 exit off of I-81 on foot, possibly coming into the City of Radford. Do not approach or attempt to apprehend this subject, as he is considered armed and dangerous. Dehart is described as a white male, approximately 5'11" with blue eyes and balding grey hair. If you have any information about his whereabouts please dial 911.
Radford University sent the following alert:
ALL PERSONNEL ARE ADVISED TO USE CAUTION INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF ALL CAMPUS AREAS DUE TO SEARCH FOR EDWARD H DEHART JR WANTED BY LOCAL JURISDICTIONS FOR STEALING SEVERAL VEHICLES.CAMPUS COMMUNITY ARE URGED TO KEEP UNATTENDED VEHICLES LOCKED AND USE CAUTION IN ALL PARKING LOTS.SUSPECT DESCRIBED AS AGE 48 5'11 BLUE EYES BALDING GREY HAIR.SUSPECT IS POTENTIALLY ARMED.
Anyone with information about DeHart is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or 911.
From today's paper: Manhunt continues for suspect in arson, larceny and vehicle thefts