SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Johnston County authorities have arrested a burglary suspect who allegedly led deputies on a three-county high-speed chase last year.
Officers had been looking for the suspect, 50-year-old James Willard West of Lillington, since October. He was arrested Tuesday on charges of burglary, assault on a government official, felony fleeing to elude arrest, reckless driving and failure to stop for a blue light and siren.
West was incarcerated under a $51,000 secured bond and scheduled to appear in court on April 15.
The charges stem from the events of Oct. 12, 2002, when officers responded to a burglar alarm at Eagle Homes on U.S. 70 east of Smithfield.
Deputies said that, after arriving on the scene, they saw that several homes had been entered. They said a truck sped by them moments later loaded with stolen furniture.
A chase ensued along I-95 through Johnston, Harnett and Cumberland Counties, ending after the suspect lost control of his truck, which struck a bridge and caught fire.
Deputies said they pulled the suspect, who was identified as West, from the burning vehicle, and he was airlifted to Duke Medical Center.
The suspect was released from the hospital the following day, before he could be formally charged.