Local News

Dunn mom fights off car thief after police chase

Posted March 27, 2012
Updated March 28, 2012

— A Dunn family says local law enforcement put them in jeopardy by not properly notifying them Monday afternoon that a robbery suspect was on the loose in the area.

"Somebody dropped the ball out here, and my family paid the price," James Young said Tuesday. "I just want somebody to step up and admit they made a mistake. Nobody's willing to do that."

Young says his wife, Kelly, and two teenage sons, Dylan and Taylor, were at their Arrowhead Road home around 11:30 a.m. when a man wanted by authorities for stealing a car from a Dunn auto store crashed the vehicle into a tree in their yard.

The family says deputies warned them to stay inside but left about an hour and a half later without telling them the suspect, whom police have identified as Johnell Chance, 44, of 4244 United St., Greensboro, had not been caught.

The Youngs say they assumed authorities had detained the suspect.

About 90 minutes later, 17-year-old Dylan heard a knock on the kitchen window. The suspected car thief had returned, kicked in the front door and headed for the bedroom, where Kelly Young was.

"I picked up a bat that was over in the door," she said. "I came at him with the bat. I came at him in the door."

Dylan says he was on the phone with 911 as his mother and the man struggled until she fell to the floor.

She never let go of the bat.

"I knew if I did, he could beat me to death with it and kill my kids," Kelly Young said. Johnell Chance Dunn mom fights off car thief after police chase

Eventually, the man ran out of the house, grabbing a shotgun that belonged to 15-year-old Taylor, who was outside at the time.

"I saw him come out of my house with the gun, and I thought he had killed my mom and brother," Taylor said.

Kelly Young escaped with bruises, but no one was seriously injured.

"It's just crazy, and nobody seemed to care," Kelly Young said.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins, whose office has jurisdiction over the area where the Youngs live, issued a statement to WRAL News Tuesday afternoon.

"Bottom line, that family should have been contacted, and that didn't happen, and I told the family they deserve an apology," Rollins said. "I am not going to point fingers (as far as which agency should have talked to the family), but when these things occur, it's incumbent on all of us to do our jobs."

Chance, meanwhile, was in the Harnett County jail Tuesday. He was arrested Monday evening after fleeing the Youngs' home.

Information regarding the charges he faces or his bond amount weren't clear Tuesday afternoon.

Dunn police say that, around 11:30 a.m. Monday, he stole a black 2008 Nissan Altima from McLamb Auto Mart in Dunn.

Police spotted the car a few minutes later on N.C. Highway 82 between Dunn and Erwin and chased him to Arrowhead Road, where he crashed the car into a tree outside the Youngs' home and then ran off into the woods.


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  • jimradar Mar 30, 2012

    Frazee...they should have told the Youngs they were leaving and the suspect was still at large. The mother was asleep because she works 3rd shift and there were two minors in the home. How could Mrs. Young call and request an update while asleep? Do we place the blame on the kids? Dunn PD should also have notified Faith Academy a manhunt was underway but they didn't and put over 90 children in harms way. Faith Academy is less than a mile from the Young home.

  • frazee Mar 30, 2012

    Hey jrobb1564, why blame the police departments? The only agency that had jurisdiction out there was the Harnett County Sheriffs Office. They are NOT a police department. Dunn and Erwin did their jobs to the degree they should have. They assisted and did a great job at it. They are the ones that called and got 2 dogs from Cumberland County. What you you say if you were speeding out in the county,say 5 miles from Dunn and a Dunn Police officer pulled you and gave you a ticket? You would then be complaining he couldn't do that because it was out of his area. Same thing here. Should they have stayed in their own city and not even helped? Damned if they do and damned if they don't. There are some issues worth complaining about dealing with the Dunn PD but this is just not one of them.

  • jrobb1564 Mar 30, 2012

    This mother did exactly what I would have did to protect herself and her precious children. Shame on the police department(s) who did not do their job(s)!!!!

  • nowon_yuno Mar 29, 2012

    Of course they do!

  • dyoungsays Mar 28, 2012

    Look. If you don't know the facts don't comment negatively. The shotgun was on the kitchen table. She and her son were entering the office as he was moving to them down the hall. He blocked the doorway leading to the kitchen from the office and all she had was that wooden bat. She did the best she could and it saved her family. She defended HER kids and HER property that she earned. She's a dang good mom

  • Pumpkin Mar 28, 2012

    Good for you Ms. Lady. I wish you could have knocked his head off and there wouldn't have been nothing the cops could have done about it. He was in your house. I am glad the family is safe.

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 28, 2012

    They're showing him under a 50,000 dollar bond, while he most likely won't make it, the home invasion should of had the bond higher.

  • Amp Mar 28, 2012

    Mom should have grabbed the shotgun instead of the bat.

  • dwntwnboy Mar 28, 2012

    How were the police supposed to know this guy was going to come back. Usually when a suspect runs, they want to get as far away as possible. It's horrible this woman had to fight this guy off, but I'm sure the police were actually IN the act of trying to track him down. She should have grabbed the shotgun first instead of the bat.

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 28, 2012

    It would of been nice if Mom, had gotten a few good licks in. I hope thing go well for her and kids, as this certainly will remain in their thoughts for awhile.