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School kids played outside while Dunn manhunt was under way

Posted March 30, 2012

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— An administrator of a Dunn private school said Friday that children were outside playing Monday as a manhunt was under way 2 miles away for a car theft suspect and that law enforcement officers never notified the school about it.

That suspect, authorities have said, also broke into a house after the search was called off, assaulted the woman living there and stole a gun from the home.

One officer, however, did wave at the children, Tammy Emanuel, vice principal of Faith Education Academy, said.

"This man is running around. He could have jumped into the car with one of our parents. He could have grabbed any of our children here," she said. "We had never been notified that anything was going on until the last parent came through the line and told us that the patrolmen were down there across the road with guns looking for a man who stole a car."

The school eventually went on lockdown after 3:30 p.m. – four hours after Johnell Chance, 44, of Greensboro, allegedly stole a car from an automotive dealer and crashed it into a tree outside the home of James and Kelly Young.

"But we should have done that at 11 a.m., when the law was aware that there was a manhunt going on in the woods down the road," Emanuel said.

Dunn police said their department and the Harnett County Sheriff's Office conducted an extensive search for Chance but, when they couldn't find him, thought he might have gotten away and called off the search.

 School kids played outside while Dunn manhunt was under way

When they left the area, the Youngs have said, Chance broke into their home. Kelly Young said she had to fight him off with a baseball bat.

In regard to the Youngs' case, Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins, whose office has jurisdiction over the area, said the Youngs should have been notified.

For Emanuel, there is no excuse for what happened. Every officer who was involved, she said, had to pass by the school.

"Harnett County was wrong. The Dunn police were here, they were wrong. The Erwin Police Department even got in on the manhunt, but nobody bothered to notify anyone," she said. "If all 90 of the children were dead, is saying, 'I should have done something else,' OK?"

Dunn Police Chief B.P. Jones said Wednesday that his department never contacted anyone because they had no indication that Chance was a threat and that officers didn't want to alarm neighbors unnecessarily. He declined to comment Friday, referring to statements he made Wednesday in which he defended his officers' actions.

"If we'd alerted all those people out there, all those people out there would have been sitting around with shotguns and rifles, and somebody probably would have gotten hurt," Jones said.

But parents, like Tamara Gilbert, whose 13-year-old son attends the school, said that not alerting the public was careless.

"They were still in school when the guy stole the shotgun," she said. "That put the school in danger and everyone else all along this road."

Gilbert said she called the police department to express her concerns and was told that the situation should have been handled differently.

"That doesn't really satisfy me. I mean, it's over and done with, but they should have protected our kids," she said. "It wouldn’t have taken anything to pick up a phone or something while they were in high pursuit to call the dispatch to call the school. What's five minutes out of their time? While they were waving, they could have been on the phone."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • kermit60 Apr 2, 2012

    If schools went on lock down everytime PD was looking for someone within a few miles they would be on lockdown all day. He COULD HAVE stolen another car and went to fayetteville so we should alert them also?

  • syracuse-slim Mar 30, 2012

    So. If someone is on the run, they won't stop to mess with kids if it means getting away or getting caught....I doubt this will get posted just like many of my other posts aren't....

  • CaptainClucksDuckboatAdventures Mar 30, 2012

    "If the Chief had a " Lack of concern for the public" why did the respond?" -no IT man

    The Chief did NOT respond, that's the issue! He let children play in a playground in an area where a man who could have had a gun and already assaulted people and robbed people were at. He didn't tell anybody! He just let things go on as business as usual. That's a problem.

  • adw2 Mar 30, 2012

    This is typical for the Dunn PD. I am rather surprised at the Sherriffs office. One thing is for sure, Moss needs to go!!!

  • no IT man Mar 30, 2012

    Have y'all forgotten that the real story is that all the PD. put their lives on the line trying to catch the criminal. You won't feel this way about them if you need them. Be grateful. Think what the world would be like if they didn't respond. If the Chief had a " Lack of concern for the public" why did the respond? Grow up people.

  • CaptainClucksDuckboatAdventures Mar 30, 2012

    I just saw this story on WRAL. This guy broke into someone's house and assualted people near the school while he was on the run.

    I was horrified at the Dunn Chief who said he didnt think it was necessary to tell people about this man running around, cause he thought some citizen might pick up their shot-gun. Um ya think? It's the duty of the police to keep the community informed of criminals running around in the neighborhood.

    And how dare this Chief now refuse to talk to people about this matter! Time for him to go.

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 30, 2012

    I think the Dunn chief has brought this on hisself with his defense of lack of concern for the public. His officer made a mistake and he's thinking they they justified. Wrong answer as you can see.

  • RNmomX4 Mar 30, 2012

    He is a car thief but somehow not a threat? I know that in itself isn't a violent crime but he obviously doesn't show the best decision making skills. The fact that he broke into a house and assaulted people shows you can't put anything past a guy on the run from the law. If I were the citizens there I would be outraged!

    My hat is off to Ms. Young for getting the guy out of her house! Way to go!