HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — Harnett County authorities searched for three hours Tuesday for a man they say took off in a patrol car after he had been placed in it during a traffic stop.
During the incident, authorities said that a deputy fired a shot at the patrol car while it was being driven by the suspect toward the deputy. No one was injured in the incident, said Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins.
The SBI is now investigating the incident, which happened around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The incident happened when a deputy pulled over a vehicle with two men inside who were wanted for allegedly stealing building materials.
The deputy became concerned for his safety during the stop and put one of the men, Ryan Charles Brown, in handcuffs behind his back and placed him in the passenger's seat of the patrol car, Rollins said.
The deputy put the seat belt on the suspect, thinking he would be secured in the vehicle, Rollins said. The second suspect was also handcuffed and placed on the ground beside the car.
During this time, the officer realized that Brown was wanted in Fayetteville for breaking and entering, so he started to search the suspect's car, Rollins said.
During the search, Brown managed to climb through his handcuffs, get his arms in front of him and pop the seat belt in the patrol car loose, Rollins said.
Rollins said that Brown then climbed into the driver's seat of the patrol car, put the car in drive, and floored the gas pedal, aiming the car at the officer. At that point, the officer fired his weapon, hitting the car with a bullet. The car did not hit the officer and continued down the road.
Police said the suspect driving the car was able to elude another officer who responded because the backup officer did not realize the suspect was driving the patrol car.
Rollins said that the road was a dead end and that the suspect driving the deputy's car eventually crashed, which is when the backup officer caught up with him.
The suspect allegedly jumped out of the car and officers had to call in the K-9 units to find the suspect. Three hours after the officer pulled over the suspect, he was apprehended.
Brown, 30, of Spring Lake, is charged at least six crimes, including felony assault with a deadly weapon. He is also charged with one felony count each of larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Brown is the Harnett County Jail on a $200,000 secured bond.
Because the officer fired a shot at the suspect, Rollins called in the SBI to investigate. After conferring with the district attorney, the SBI has instructed the Harnett Sheriff's Office to conduct an internal investigation into the shooting. Meanwhile, the officer involved is on administrative duty.