Local News

Dunn police: Warning unneeded as suspected thief not considered dangerous

Posted March 28, 2012

— A Dunn family that was the victim of a violent home invasion following a police chase said Tuesday that authorities put the family's safety in jeopardy by not notifying them that the suspected car thief was never caught.

More than an hour after the manhunt was called off Monday, James and Kelly Young said, the man forced his way into their home, assaulted Kelly Young and stole a gun that belonged to their 15-year-old son.

"They didn't give us the opportunity to get my family out of here by telling us the guy hadn't been apprehended," James Young said. "They didn't leave anybody in case he came back."

But Dunn's police chief, B.P. Jones, said Wednesday that his department never had any information to believe that the man was a threat and that officers didn't want to alarm neighbors after the search was called off.

"I can understand them being concerned about the fact that nobody told them he had been apprehended," Jones said. "We had no reason to believe that he was dangerous to anybody. All we knew was that we were after a car thief, and we felt the only thing he wanted to do was get away, and we actually thought he had accomplished what he wanted to do."

Police and Harnett County sheriff's deputies had been looking for Johnell Chance, 44, of Greensboro, after he allegedly stole a car earlier in the day from McLamb Auto Mart in Dunn.

Warning family wasn't needed, Dunn police chief says Warning family wasn't needed, Dunn police chief says

Chance was being pursued by officers when he crashed the stolen car into a tree near the Youngs' home. He got out of the car and ran off into some nearby woods.

Authorities searched for about 90 minutes before calling it off. Less than two hours later, the Youngs say, Chance broke into their home, and Kelly Young had to fight him off with a baseball bat.

"We assumed he had left the area," Jones said, because search dogs had lost track of him.

James Young reacted Wednesday, saying he was disturbed by the police chief's response, pointing out that police pursued the stolen car at high rates of speed and that they were wearing bulletproof vests and openly carrying automatic weapons.

"I find the arrogance of Chief Jones' statement to you completely incredulous," he said. "If they didn't consider the man dangerous, why brandish the weapons or wear protection at all?"

"If the police had chased the man into Chief Jones' back yard, would they have left without apprising his family of the situation? I think not," he continued.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins, whose office has jurisdiction over the area where the Youngs live, said Tuesday that the family should have been notified.

"Bottom line, that family should have been contacted, and that didn't happen, and I told the family they deserve an apology," Rollins said in a statement. "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 was arrested later in the day Monday and was in the Harnett County jail Wednesday.

Dunn police charged him with possession of a stolen vehicle – stemming from a car theft in Greensboro – and vehicle theft. He was also wanted in Maryland for car theft.

It's still unclear, what other charges Chance might face by the sheriff's office.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • jimradar Mar 30, 2012

    Frazee...how did Dunn PD know the suspect wasn't armed when he entered the woods after crashing the car? They didn't see him exit the vehicle OR run off. What about Faith Academy? Less than a mile away and never notified about a manhunt. Even the Sheriff admits the Youngs should have alerted the search was ending and the suspect was still at large. The mom was asleep so how could she have called anyone to check? Bottom line is Dunn PD messed up, plain and simple.

  • frazee Mar 30, 2012

    "hunterj97" Congratulations on your house! Looking good. Keep up the good work!

  • frazee Mar 30, 2012

    "here is one for ya"
    From what I understand the vehicles were purchased with "drug" money. The funds were built up from forfeitures and things like that. There are no drugs in Dunn so they now work the interstate. YES, I am joking! I don't like it either. If they make a big cash hit, it will all pay off. They have been out there for going on a year and to maintain the cars they do use tax monies. If they worked drugs in Dunn, it would take some work off the patrol division. The patrol division is doing very good on the fight against drugs. FD/EMS.... your comments wrong. They have a budget and can't get but so much every year from the county. The call numbers are up every year but the budget gets cut every year. Even though the 2 are housed in the same building, everything is kept seperate. FD responds if they need lifting assistance or any other assistance. You will not see just the FD respond to an EMS call. They could though, they are cross trained.

  • frazee Mar 30, 2012

    He did not take the keys to the car at gunpoint. As you already stated, he took the gun from the home. As for the sly comment about vest, do you think the police department only put their vest on when dealing with an armed subject? Most wear them the entire shift. One minute you could be eating a donut at Sherry's Bakery and the next minute be in the middle of a gunfight. If you entered into a fight with a suspect whether he had a gun or not, wouldn't you rather be wearing that extra protection? Even if someone punched me, I would rather have that added protection to soften the blow. Some local officers do not wear them at all times like the NCSHP but put them on if they feel it may be needed. Some people make it sound like the officers were out there with armored vehicles.

  • Here is one for ya Mar 30, 2012

    "Hunterj97" Why is a local town using its very limited resources to "patrol" the interstate? Do they recieve any federal money? Were did the money come from to purchace the cars and equipment they are using on the interstate? Its a revenue builder, Pierod. It's simular a Fire Department running EMS calls to run up call volumes, in order to get more money. They sit out there and look for cars with license plates on the front bumper. I have worked for State, and County governments, I have a good idea about what is going on.

  • whatusay Mar 30, 2012

    frazee....how do you know the man was not armed when he escaped? The article says, " the man forced his way into their home, assaulted Kelly Young and stole a gun that belonged to their 15-year-old son." And, why were police wearing protective vests while looking for him??

  • SlipNSliding Mar 29, 2012

    Dunn Police.... really??? Dunn Police...??? Now you see what happens when you leave it up to them to make a decision in regards to public safety. Keep up the fine work boys... donuts on me!

  • hunterj97 Mar 29, 2012

    "Here is one for ya" You don't know what your talking about, Dunn PD has different divisions of officers. One division runs interdiction on I-95, that is why you see officers on the exits. Another division is the Patrol division, they work the roads, so your comment about the officers need to be on the road, is stupid and pointless, Next time think before you type something.

  • jimradar Mar 29, 2012

    Frazee...how did the Dunn PD know the criminal wasn't armed? They never saw him. Like Mr. Young said, if the suspect was such a gentleman why were the police wearing vests and carrying automatic weapons weapons during their search? If they're afraid for their safety shouldn't the people inside the home be as well? Shouldn't they expect the police to do everything in their power to protect them? Shouldn't alerting them to the fact they were leaving and the suspect was still at large be the LEAST the police should do?

    "Everyone did a good job"? Are you kidding me? They couldn't find a man who was close enough to know the police had left the scene! The criminal saw the younger boy leave the residence so and thought the 17 year old was the only one in the home. The mother was asleep becuse she works 3rd shift and never knew what was going on until her son woke her when the man started kicking in the front door.

    The chief commented with good intentions? That's laughable! BP Jones is simp

  • frazee Mar 29, 2012

    "Here is one for ya" I agree.

    My last comment was cutoff because it surpassed the amounted characters. But as someone stated the Dunn PD needs to be investigated, I agree but not in the area they are commenting about. If WRAL would contact me I have some information they would be interested in and I will share.

    As for the comment from "whatusay", when the guy escaped, he was not armed. Everyone involved did what they were trained to do and did a good job. If it were to happen all over again today, I don't see where anyone would do anything different.

    On my last comment about the police chief, he didn't need to comment but did with good intentions. So for anyone to say anything negative about his comment is wrong.

    This was really just a misfortunate situation for all involved.