Local News

High-speed chase catches man wanted in car theft

Posted December 19, 2008
Updated December 20, 2008

— State troopers ran a car off the road Friday in a special maneuver that ended a high-speed chase from Rocky Mount to Wake County on U.S. Highway 64 West and let them capture a man wanted for trying to run down down two Rocky Mount police officers.

Shortly after 4 p.m., two Rocky Mount police officers patrolling Golden East Mall, 1100 N. Wesleyan Blvd., spotted a yellow sport-utility vehicle that had been reported stolen in Virginia Beach, Va., Megan Hanks, the city's public-affairs manager, said.

The officers stopped the vehicle, but the driver – identified as Thomas James Merchant, 20 – attempted to run over both officers. In response, an officer fired multiple rounds at the stolen vehicle, Hanks said. As Merchant fled, the SUV struck a police car and two other vehicles.

Rocky Mount officers pursued Merchant along U.S. Highway 301 South and onto U.S. Highway 64 West. Nash County sheriff's deputies and state troopers picked up the chase when the driver left the city.

The chase continued through Franklin County briefly and then into Wake County, where Merchant turned onto Rolesville Road, north of Mitchell Road, said Patty McQuillan, a spokeswoman for the state Crime Control and Public Safety Department.

Troopers laid out stop sticks on Rolesville Road, and Merchant ran over them, causing the SUV's right tires to go flat, McQuillan said.

Trooper C. Pate did a PIT maneuver in which an officer uses a cruiser to bump a chased car out of control. It forced Merchant to stop the SUV at Rolesville and Old Milburnie roads. Officers surrounded the car and immediately apprehended the suspect.

Merchant was treated for minor injuries at WakeMed in Raleigh, but no one else was injured in the chase, which ended around 4:45 p.m.

A bystander's car ran over stop sticks that officers had laid out to stop the fleeing vehicle, McQuillan said.

Merchant originally gave troopers a false name, making it hard to identify him, Sgt. M. Landon, with the Highway Patrol said.

Merchant faces a number of felony charges, including assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon, motor-vehicle theft and pursuit. Troopers also charged with speeding, driving with an operator's license and a stop-sign violation, Landon said.

He was being held in the Nash County Jail Saturday morning.


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  • ccs1920 Dec 19, 2008

    I hope he gets some active time. NO probation.

  • mom2threecld Dec 19, 2008

    wow, there was a chase in knightdale today too and the guy crashed behind discount tire and ran. cops finally got him

  • dhedgepeth Dec 19, 2008

    Is this what you are refering to? This is the current law in NC:
    § 14‑51.1. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder.

    (a) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence is justified in using any degree of force that the occupant reasonably believes is necessary, including deadly force, against an intruder to prevent a forcible entry into the home or residence or to terminate the intruder's unlawful entry (i) if the occupant reasonably apprehends that the intruder may kill or inflict serious bodily harm to the occupant or others in the home or residence, or (ii) if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder intends to commit a felony in the home or residence.

    (b) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence does not have a duty to retreat from an intruder in the circumstances described in this section.

    (c) This section is not intended to repeal, expand, or limit any other defense that may exist under the common law. (

  • TontoKozlowski Dec 19, 2008


  • teacher-mom Dec 19, 2008

    What is the Castle Doctrine?

  • GravyPig Dec 19, 2008

    Maybe I am confused, but what does the castle doctrine have to do with a high speed chase and a stolen car?

  • redwarrior Dec 19, 2008

    If you run, you'll only go to jail tired.

  • TontoKozlowski Dec 19, 2008

    another reason to sign the petition for the Castle Doctrine