Law enforcement says ‘large police presence’ in East Lawrence after chase was for public safety; suspect still at large

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

Neighbors watch in East Lawrence as police and deputies station themselves around the neighborhood of New York Elementary School, where a suspect had fled on foot Sunday evening after a vehicle pursuit.

A suspect in an hourslong police incident Sunday was still at large Monday, after a lengthy pursuit through downtown Lawrence and a manhunt kept an East Lawrence neighborhood on edge.

Dozens of law enforcement personnel from the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office descended on the neighborhood around New York Elementary School on Sunday evening as they searched for a driver who had led them on a chase through downtown and then abandoned his car on 10th Street next to the elementary school and fled on foot.

Law enforcement called in a K-9 unit to search the area with a police dog, as officers were stationed at multiple intersections in the neighborhood from New York Street east several blocks to Delaware Street.

Police did not respond to requests for information until Monday morning, at which time they said reports were not yet complete but offered the following details about the search.

The pursuit began about 7 p.m. Sunday, when officers were dispatched to The Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St., in reference to two intoxicated subjects parked in front of the business and drinking inside the vehicle, according to Lt. David Ernst, a police spokesman. As an officer approached on foot, the vehicle fled the area. A pursuit then ensued and ultimately ended near the intersection of 10th and New Jersey Street. The driver fled the area on foot and was not located, Ernst said Monday.

“I can imagine the large police presence last night was unnerving,” Ernst told the Journal-World via email Monday afternoon. “We wanted to use all available resources to safely stop the driver’s reckless driving behaviors which included nearly striking pedestrians, other vehicles and causing minor damage to a patrol vehicle.”

Ernst said that after the driver fled on foot, police were informed that the driver entered the mudroom of a residence in the 900 Block of New Jersey Street and tried to force entry into the kitchen area.

“Fortunately the driver did not make it any further into the residence,” Ernst said. “We continued to deploy a large amount of police resources in the neighborhood to attempt to locate the driver.”

Meanwhile, as the search continued, residents of the neighborhood lined the sidewalks, with little official information about what was happening.

Multiple neighbors told the Journal-World that a man in a silver Chevrolet crossed Connecticut Street, then abandoned his car, which had visible damage, on 10th Street next to New York Elementary. They watched as the K-9 unit was called in and the dog sniffed the suspect’s car before heading further into the neighborhood to search. The car was later towed away.

Another resident, who had witnessed the chase from downtown, said the pursuit went up and down Massachusetts Street several times and that the driver in the silver car drove through South Park before heading to East Lawrence, where he dumped the car. The man said he believed there were two people in the car and that one appeared to have possibly surrendered at some point.

The Journal-World reached out to law enforcement for further details Sunday night, including what the suspect was wanted for and whether police believed he was armed and dangerous.

Two neighbors at the scene said they were told by police that the man was armed, but the Journal-World has been unable to confirm that with law enforcement.

A video of part of the pursuit on Massachusetts Street can be viewed here: Chase


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