Robbery suspect who jumped in Cape Fear River still missing
Posted January 8
Fayetteville, N.C. — Fayetteville police divers braved bone-chilling water Wednesday afternoon to search for a robbery suspect who jumped into the Cape Fear River hours earlier and disappeared.
The suspect, who has not been identified, was not found after a dive team was dispatched about 1 p.m.
The incident began about midnight when officers received a report of an armed robbery at the Kangaroo convenience store at 4000 S. Main St. About 30 minutes later, Fayetteville police Sgt. E. Ketchum saw a teal Ford F-150 matching the suspect vehicle description on North Eastern Boulevard and attempted to stop the pickup truck.
During the traffic stop, a female passenger, identified as Brandy Baker, jumped from the vehicle as the driver sped off, police said. She was taken into custody without incident, questioned, and was later released.
The driver led police on a pursuit that ended on Medina Road. Sgt. Ketchum's vehicle lost traction on frozen vegetation and slid into the rear of the pickup truck, resulting in minor damage to the front of his patrol car, police said.
The suspect then jumped into the Cape Fear River near his family's property. Medlock said the man climbed down a ladder into the river.
"Thank goodness (because) my sergeant, who didn't know the ladder was there, if he had continued to run, would have gone off a 3-story cliff," Medlock said.
Medlock said the man was trying to swim across the river when he began calling for help. Fayetteville Police Sgts. Patrick Berg and Phillip Young jumped into the water to save the man but were unable to reach him, police said.
Medlock called the sergeants heroes. The officers had a change of clothes in their cars and did not require medical attention, he said.
"Those two men are heroes for me," Medlock said. "They did exactly what a police officer or a firefighter takes the job to do, and that is to save a life. I gave them my appreciation and told them they were crazy."
Officers searched by boat and in surrounding woods. Medlock said the river has a fast-flowing current, so the man could have traveled far from where he entered the water.
Detectives think the suspect might have been involved in other robberies.
Neighbor Randy Page said Brandy Baker is the girlfriend of the suspect.
"She was upset," he said. "She wanted to get her clothes and leave."