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Search ends after suspect found in woods

South Boston News
Timothy Austin / April 13, 2017
A 27-year-old man was taken into custody late Wednesday afternoon after local authorities issued a community-wide alert of an armed and dangerous suspect seen in the Vernon Hill/White Oak area of the county.

Timothy Austin is being held without bond at the Halifax Adult Detention Center following his arrest around 5:30 p.m. on outstanding warrants. More charges are forthcoming, according to Sheriff Fred Clark.

Austin was apprehended after law enforcement officers conducted a two-and-a-half hour search in the vicinity of Chatham Road (Route 57) near the White Oak/Vernon Hill community. As the search was ongoing, county residents received automated telephone messages warning of an armed and dangerous suspect on the loose. Residents were urged to stay indoors with their doors locked until the threat passed.

Members of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office were initially dispatched to a Chatham Road residence to investigate a vehicle crash reported around 3 p.m. The wreck reportedly stemmed from an argument between several individuals.

The caller provided dispatchers with the name of a male who had numerous outstanding warrants to his name. The caller also stated that the suspect had intentionally rammed into the back of a vehicle.

The man fled into the nearby woods carrying weapons with him, the caller reported.

Sheriff’s deputies, Virginia State Police, the Virginia State Police Tactical Team and members of the local Task Force responded to Chatham Road to conduct the search for the suspect.

A Virginia State Police aircraft was called in to aid the search, and Trooper Meeks and his tracking K-9 unit and Deputy W.F. Cross with his tracking K-9 unit also joined the search effort.

Around 5:30 p.m. officers and the K-9 units located the suspect about a half mile from where the incident began. After tracking through cutover areas, swampland and deep creeks, officers took the suspect into custody without incident.

A shotgun and handgun were recovered later at the scene.

Police determined that county residents should be notified via a CIVIC Ready phone messaging system that the suspect, described as armed and dangerous, was at large and posed a danger.

The telephone warning asked that people stay in their homes and lock their doors.

The message was later confined to the Vernon Hill community. Clark said that later that an error was made in alerting all county residents, but he said that it was done on behalf of everyone’s safety.

Clark said he expects to continue working on the messaging system to make it more efficient.

Clark praised the team effort of officers and K-9 units involved in the search, and he thanked all who participated — including officers with the South Boston Police Department who provided back-up assistance, checking on incoming calls while the team was leading the search.

“Thank God the subject was apprehended and no one was harmed,” said Clark.

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SMDH, Sorry we are suppose to stop working just because of this? This is a reason why everyone should be armed at all times!

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