By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — A suspected shoplifting, police pursuit and manhunt created an eerily familiar scenario for law enforcement.
And the lead suspect was still at large Thursday night, and possibly armed.
The chase of the suspected shoplifter took police from Cox's Supermarket across the city, into a field and a densely wooded area. County and state police also assisted and state police even used a Cessna airplane to help with the search, which was eventually discontinued for safety reasons.
The incident was similar to a high-speed pursuit in Alexandria about a month ago. On June 9, police arrested Jeffrey Duvall after he allegedly led police on a reckless chase that started at Cox's market in downtown Alexandria.
"It's not what you'd expect in Alexandria," said police Chief Brian Burnett.
Burnett said police know who the man is, based on video footage and information about the vehicle he was driving, but they're holding off on identifying him until a warrant can be served.
"He's a local. I imagine he'll be in custody in the next two or three days. It's just a matter of getting a warrant and picking him up," Burnett said.
According to police reports, the bizarre string of events started at Cox's. The suspect walked in at about 1 p.m., grabbed a cart and started filling it with groceries. He walked out with the cart and headed toward the red Dodge truck he was driving.
Store owner John Cox was in the parking lot and stopped to question the suspicious-looking man because the groceries were not bagged. The man told Cox he paid for the items, but Cox confirmed otherwise with employees inside.
Cox called police and ran outside to pursue the man's vehicle, which took off east on John Street headed for Indiana 9. When a police car began pursuit, the man turned into a field near a CVS drugstore and drove to County Road 1100 North and continued eastbound.
The truck only went about 100 yards on the county road when the man bailed out of the vehicle and headed for a nearby wooded area. Several police units, including K-9 dogs, surrounded the area but couldn't find the suspect. One of the officers said he believed he saw a weapon in the man's possession, which is another reason the search was eventually called off.
"You have to think about safety in a moment like that, and even if it's just a possibility he has a weapon, we don't need to take any unwarranted risks," Burnett said.
Police have the suspect's car and returned the stolen items to Cox's. Burnett said $288 in merchandise was recovered from the truck.
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