Local News

Chief: Officer Appeared to Follow Policy in Fatal Chase

Posted December 2, 2007

— Franklinton Police Chief Ray Gilliam said Sunday it appeared policy was properly followed in a high-speed police chase and crash that killed three people. Officials were still investigating.

The 13-mile chase started Saturday afternoon in Franklinton on N.C. Highway 56 and proceeded north on U.S. Highway 15 near Creedmoor into Granville County – where it ended.

Franklinton police officer Michael Dunlap observed Guy Christopher Ayscue, 38, of Henderson, driving very erratically in a Pontiac, according to police. Dunlap tried to stop Ayscue using his lights and siren, but Ayscue drove off, and Dunlap pursued. (Listen to officer's radio traffic during the chase.)

“The policy we have in place, the officer has the discretion to pursue an individual if a felony offense has occurred," Gilliam said.

When Dunlap signaled for Ayscue to pull over and he refused – causing a chase – a felony occurred.

Surveillance video released Sunday from a Franklinton convenience store on N.C. Highway 56 showed Ayscue speeding through a stoplight on the wrong side of the road and Dunlap giving chase. For 13 miles, Gilliam said Dunlap stayed on Ayscue's trail.

“The vehicle came into Franklinton at a high rate of speed, driving very carelessly and erratic,” Gilliam said.

Calls between emergency dispatch and an officer detailed how Ayscue traveled directly into oncoming traffic at least three times at high speeds.

“Black Mercedes off the road, not sure if they’re OK or not,” the officer said.

“10-4. Black Mercedes off the roadway. We’ll notify Granville County,” a dispatcher responded.

One of the close calls was with a North Carolina senator from the area. Doug Berger was riding with his son, Justus, when the chase came right at them.

“It is very scary. You have the sense that this is it and your life is about to end when you see something like that,” Berger said.

Justus turned the car into a ditch just in time to save their lives, Berger said.

Sisters Linsay Lunsford, 18, and Maggie Lunsford, 9, were not as lucky.

“Suspect vehicle and another vehicle head-on collision,” an officer is heard saying in police radio traffic. “I have [highway patrol] out with them at this time. Please notify 18-01 at this time.”

Ayscue was traveling north on U.S. Highway 15 and went to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone when he hit a 1999 Kia head-on, Gilliam said. The Kia was carrying Linsay and Maggie.

They, along with Ayscue, were killed in the fiery collision. Police estimate that Ayscue was traveling 90 mph at the time of the crash.

Ayscue had been in trouble before. He got off parole just two months before Saturday's accident. His lengthy criminal record included alcohol and drug infractions. He was also facing charges of speeding.

In six of the past 10 years, Ayscue has either been in jail or on parole.

Ayscue's family members declined to be interviewed on camera Sunday, but said their hearts went out to the victims' family during this "terrible tragedy."

The sisters were driving to their father's house after a shopping trip at Wal-Mart. They were two of six children in their family.

Linsay was a student at UNC-Greensboro and was studying to become a teacher. Maggie, a fourth-grader at Mount Energy Elementary School, won a trophy at a karate tournament earlier in the day Saturday.

The tragic outcome has some questioning whether Dunlap should have continued the chase as long as he did.

“As of now, we have not found anything in violation or infraction of violating the policy as it stands now," Gilliam said. "But then again, we are still conducting interviews, not only with the officer but witnesses too.”

Dunlap has served less than two years on the Franklinton police force. He is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the chase and crash.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • elle89 Dec 3, 2007

    we all need to pray for God's protection and that God will get thru to these people who have turned to drugs, alcohol and breaking the law.

  • tryton77 Dec 3, 2007

    I'm not sure people on this board get this.
    example: If this cop came up on a situation where a suspect was holding a gun, pointing it at people and firing it, saying I'm not going to jail and I'll do anything not to make sure I don't.
    Would that cop pull his own weapon? Would that cop shot the subject before the suspect had the chance to shot someone? Answer: YES
    I'll say it again... This was a deadly situation and the Officer should have done everything within his means to have stopped the subject in the fleeing car.
    Either you do not chase a fleeing vehicle... OR.. you STOP the Vehicle as fast as possible by any means!! This ain't NASCAR!!

  • Southern Country Dec 3, 2007

    This is so typical todays society. Blame the other person. The resulting circumstances of this accident are a true tragedy but not a single post that I've read has blamed the guy that didn't stop. Law Enforcement officers must make split second decisions daily based on our decisions. I'm not in law enforcement and I'm not saying that all officers are perfect. They are human and will make mistakes. But I support the law and the actions they take. Besides; if I'm not guilty of anything, why should I RUN?
    My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims family.

  • amypsychrn Dec 3, 2007

    My ex and his best friend chased down a marine on a motorcycle about ten years ago after a drive off of gas that was about five bucks. They caught up with him when he ran off the road and hit a ditch and flew about a hundred feet and was dead on impact. He only had two bucks on him. My ex and his friend carried this burden with them for a long time and they probably still do.
    What happened to radioing ahead for assistance and using stop sticks and trying to get the roads cleared? Stopping traffic on the road by other cops further up ahead of the chase?
    Yes, this LEO was doing his job but his job is to protect and serve not drive like he's a NASCAR driver. Heck, our sheriff has had so many complaints about the deputies speeding that he takes complaint calls personally.

  • Iworkforaliving Dec 3, 2007

    let him go and not chase????? Some of you need to research a little about some of these p.o.s that they have chased,caught and found out they had someones kid in the trunk, or were a serial killer, you never really know. Still no excuse for these two young people to die, but please think first then place the blame where it belongs, the suspect.
    I could be wrong, but this time, I doubt it.

  • Aries82 Dec 3, 2007

    I don't know the man, but I'll be willing to bet he had several run-ins with the law. I feel for the family of the two girls. It is a tragedy.

  • blessalah Dec 3, 2007

    This was not the fault of the LEO, but that of the criminal who was behind the wheel. The end result was tragic indeed, but no one can ever know the outcome of an event at the beginning.

    May the sisters rest in peace and Mr.Ayescue's familiy walk in shame.

  • crazyfrog02 Dec 3, 2007

    Gulf War Vet:

    Another senseless tragedy caused by a LEO. This cop should have backed off. Once they had his tag, and knew who he probably was, have another officer throw down stop sticks up the way. No need to fuel the fire.

    I was almost a victim of one of these scenes some years ago... and flat out... cops gotta use BETTER discretion.

    Can you tell me if it was the owner of the vehicle that was driving? Or maybe it was just stolen at gun point? Don't be so fast to tell other people how they should react during a situation. I am sure if you were in the LEO's shoes you would have just let the guy that’s already driving erratically just go cause you have the tag …come on think a little!!

  • leo-nc Dec 3, 2007

    "Its so simple.The police should have stopped chasing this guy ON THE ROAD and instead called ina helicopter that could have followed this guy wherever he went.Why endanger other people's lives yet no one can run away in this country except by going out of the US?What was so urgent that they had to catch him there and then?"

    And where do you suppose that would come from? SHP? Wakemed? Response time being at least an hour, when do they give up chase and wait for the helo?

  • tweetiedub76 Dec 3, 2007

    i know the police officer personally and he would have never wanted this to happen. He was doing his job. Its the driver fault that this happened. Dunlap is a great officer. We need to support him.