GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) – Police say an armed robbery suspect in a gold tracksuit is still on the run after leading Garner police on a chase that prompted a massive manhunt Tuesday.
The Garner police chief says his department is working with Raleigh police to find Willonte Miller-Torres.
The 19-year-old evaded officers, tracking dogs and a helicopter during the search along Old Stage Road, near Grovemont Road in Wake County Tuesday afternoon.
“I was nervous. I thought I was in World War something,” said DeCarlos Parker who lives on Old Stage Road and saw the commotion.
Garner police say around 1:15 p.m., they received a call from the Raleigh Police Fugitive Task Force alerting them that a suspect in a home invasion might be in the area.
Garner Chief Brandon Zuidema says his officers tracked down that suspect, later identified as Miller-Torres, on Timber Drive. However, the chief says when officers tried to pull the driver over, he sped off.
Zuidema says officers chased the driver for few minutes before he crashed his car into a culvert at the intersection of Old Stage Road and Grovemont Road.
“I heard a lot of police sirens and then I heard something go ‘boom’,” said Parker.
Parker said the suspect ran down his driveway and through his backyard.
“I looked out my back door and I saw them trying to search my barn and everything back there. They were all up in the woods,” said Parker. “Some of them had SWAT gear on. They had assault rifles. Those big old assault rifles, and dogs.”
Zuidema says Wake County deputies, as well as members of N.C. State Highway Patrol, a helicopter and K-9 units all helped in the search. Two nearby schools, and several daycare centers were locked down as officers scoured the area, police said.
By 4 p.m. Zuidema said officers were not able to find Miller-Torres, and they believed he was no longer in the area. A damaged black Acura was towed from the scene.
“We’re asking that people take a look at his picture, but if they see him do not do anything to attempt to apprehend him. Call 911 immediately,” said Zuidema.
Court records show Miller-Torres has had more than a dozen encounters with law enforcement since 2014.
Raleigh police say he’s wanted for robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with a robbery from a person that occurred on March 14 at the Wake Inn located at 3120 New Bern Ave.
Zuidema says one officer was hurt when his cruiser collided with another police car during the search. The chief says that officer was treated and released from WakeMed.