Local News

Dunn mom fights off car thief after police chase

Posted March 27, 2012 6:23 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2012 5:59 a.m. EDT

— A Dunn family says local law enforcement put them in jeopardy by not properly notifying them Monday afternoon that a robbery suspect was on the loose in the area.

"Somebody dropped the ball out here, and my family paid the price," James Young said Tuesday. "I just want somebody to step up and admit they made a mistake. Nobody's willing to do that."

Young says his wife, Kelly, and two teenage sons, Dylan and Taylor, were at their Arrowhead Road home around 11:30 a.m. when a man wanted by authorities for stealing a car from a Dunn auto store crashed the vehicle into a tree in their yard.

The family says deputies warned them to stay inside but left about an hour and a half later without telling them the suspect, whom police have identified as Johnell Chance, 44, of 4244 United St., Greensboro, had not been caught.

The Youngs say they assumed authorities had detained the suspect.

About 90 minutes later, 17-year-old Dylan heard a knock on the kitchen window. The suspected car thief had returned, kicked in the front door and headed for the bedroom, where Kelly Young was.

"I picked up a bat that was over in the door," she said. "I came at him with the bat. I came at him in the door."

Dylan says he was on the phone with 911 as his mother and the man struggled until she fell to the floor.

She never let go of the bat.

"I knew if I did, he could beat me to death with it and kill my kids," Kelly Young said.

Eventually, the man ran out of the house, grabbing a shotgun that belonged to 15-year-old Taylor, who was outside at the time.

"I saw him come out of my house with the gun, and I thought he had killed my mom and brother," Taylor said.

Kelly Young escaped with bruises, but no one was seriously injured.

"It's just crazy, and nobody seemed to care," Kelly Young said.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins, whose office has jurisdiction over the area where the Youngs live, issued a statement to WRAL News Tuesday afternoon.

"Bottom line, that family should have been contacted, and that didn't happen, and I told the family they deserve an apology," Rollins said. "I am not going to point fingers (as far as which agency should have talked to the family), but when these things occur, it's incumbent on all of us to do our jobs."

Chance, meanwhile, was in the Harnett County jail Tuesday. He was arrested Monday evening after fleeing the Youngs' home.

Information regarding the charges he faces or his bond amount weren't clear Tuesday afternoon.

Dunn police say that, around 11:30 a.m. Monday, he stole a black 2008 Nissan Altima from McLamb Auto Mart in Dunn.

Police spotted the car a few minutes later on N.C. Highway 82 between Dunn and Erwin and chased him to Arrowhead Road, where he crashed the car into a tree outside the Youngs' home and then ran off into the woods.