Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – A manhunt that started Tuesday morning near Main and Sprahler Streets in Gaston was finally called off in the afternoon after officers from various agencies spent all day searching for a suspect. The man they were trying to capture was wanted in a domestic violence case in Lexington County.
The search started sometime around 8:00 a.m. after county deputies tried to take the suspect into custody. He fled the scene in a vehicle, wrecked in Gaston, and eventually ran into some woods just north of Main Street (Hwy. 321 south) near the old fire tower's general area. Officers from the town’s Police Department immediately became involved in the hunt as more law enforcement officers converged from across the South Region. Gaston Police Captain Brandon Poole immediately deployed their bloodhound Bella to track the suspect. It was already raining steadily when this all started and continued most of the day.
Eventually, the search involved officers from Gaston, Swansea, South Congaree, Pine Ridge, Calhoun County and even a K-9 handler from Newberry County. That officer happened to be in the area for training with his dog. They quickly set up a perimeter boxing the suspect into the heavily wooded area bisected by a railroad track. Eventually they searched over to Cassidy and Happy Town Roads. The perimeter also stretched from Ben Spires to Blackville Road and all parts in between. In the areas closest to the railroad, the briers and brush are so thick that it’s almost impossible to move through the area exacerbating the search. The wooded area offered lots of hiding places the suspect could use.
At one point, an officer did find the suspect who sprinted away on foot. A short foot chase ensued. The officer deployed his taser unsuccessfully and the man was able to make it back into the woods to hide again. The last reported sighting was closer to noon. Someone told police that they had seen a suspicious man duck behind some houses near the 100 block of Cassidy Road. That lead also proved futile as did several others.
The search and the rain continued until later in the afternoon. At some point, the manhunt was called off and it was decided that they would use investigative techniques to try and locate the man after obtaining warrants. Many of the officer were soaked completely through and had to make uniform and boots changes to continue their shift. One said late Tuesday he was so wet that he left puddles everywhere he walked, and water was dripping out of his pockets.
As of Tuesday evening, Captain Adam Myrick, spokesman for the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, said that the suspect had not been taken into custody. Their work on the case continues.