Baldwin and Escambia County deputies are still trying to identify and catch a theft suspect who led deputies on a crazy chase Sunday night, January 12, 2020. It started in Seminole and ended on Mobile Highway in Escambia Co., FL with a crash and a fire. The suspect got away and investigators are asking for the public’s help catching him.
“Peaceful Sunday evening with some chili and cornbread and oh my goodness,” recalled Kathryn Emerson.
Emerson lives across the street from where the chase ended and said she heard a loud boom as the pickup hit a large pine tree. A Baldwin County Sheriff’s deputy’s dash-cam showed what the scene looked like as the 1997 Dodge pickup caught fire. For more than 15 minutes, that deputy had been chasing the suspect. The chase went off-road twice once they entered Florida. The suspect led the deputy through woods and fields all while pulling a travel trailer investigators believe to be stolen.
“The suspect again trying to lose the deputy, went off-road and again, was towing this travel trailer through the woods, ends up in someone’s front yard and in an attempt to lose the deputy also and eventually does lose the trailer,” said Capt. Clint Cadenhead with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators said the driver of the pickup is a suspect in two previous thefts at a construction company in Elsanor. Surveillance images show the suspect stealing a utility trailer and a zero-turn mower earlier this month. The best image investigators have of the suspect himself is a grainy picture captured on a convenience store security camera before Sunday’s chase.
“We’d had a couple calls like I said, already and then, the one day before yesterday and the deputy…decent video and was able to pass that on to the oncoming shift and the next shift, with a deputy and a car in that area saw him,” Cadenhead explained.
The chase ended across the street from a small gas station on Mobile Hwy. near Woodside Dr. The owner said there was already some fire coming from under the truck when it hit the tree and that she was thankful it didn’t come closer to her pumps. Emerson, who lives next to the gas station said she was prepared for a confrontation.
“I have dogs and I was ready to go get my gun, cause I, you know don’t want some crazy person coming over messing with me,” Emerson said.
Emerson said right after the crash, the first deputies on the scene got out and approached the pickup, demanding that the suspect get out with his hands up. But, by then, he’d already made an escape. If you have any information that could help identify the suspect, you’re asked to call the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.