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High-speed chase suspect charged with assault

Posted December 20, 2008

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— Authorities filed charges Saturday against a Tarboro man they say led a high-speed police chase from Rocky Mount to Wake County that ended when state troopers ran a sport-utility vehicle off the road.

Thomas James Merchant, 20, of Burrus Place, was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of each of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, fleeing to elude arrest, driving without an operator's license, speeding and a stop-sign violation.

Rocky Mount police say that Merchant was driving a stolen SUV that officers tried to stop near Golden East Mall late Friday afternoon. When the driver fled, he tried to run over two officers and struck a police car and two other vehicles, police said.

State troopers and Nash County sheriff's deputies joined the pursuit down U.S. Highway 64 West, onto Rolesville Road in eastern Wake County. A trooper did a PIT maneuver, lightly tapping the bumper of the SUV to force it off the road. Merchant was arrested at the scene.

Merchant was transported to the Nash County Jail after being treated for minor injuries at WakeMed in Raleigh. He was being held under a $52,000 bond Saturday morning. His first court appearance was set for Tuesday.

Merchant was convicted of speeding to elude arrest and unauthorized use of conveyance in Edgecombe County in early 2007, according to state Department of Correction records. He served nearly 6 months in jail for violating that probation later in 2007.

Since 2005, Merchant has been convicted of nine crimes, also including assault on an officer, resisting an officer, possession of a weapon on campus and communicating threats.

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  • twright530 Dec 22, 2008

    He should have been arrested back in the day....