An Austinville man is in custody after allegedly leading police on a second chase in a second stolen vehicle Friday, the first of which led to a manhunt in Carroll County.
Carroll County Sheriff J.B. Gardner said his office passed along a tip to Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan on Thursday morning that Kevin Nelson Beasley, 26, was at his house in Austinville and was believed to be the person who stole a vehicle late Wednesday night from Photo Lane, just off Mt. Zion Road in Woodlawn, before ramming a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office vehicle head-on, leading to a manhunt that lasted throughout the day Thursday.
According to Sheriff Dunagan of Wythe County, Beasley wasn’t at the Austinville residence when deputies arrived. They learned from Gardner that Beasley may have stolen a second vehicle, a Mitsubishi pickup truck, from Photo Lane sometime around lunch on Thursday. Two Wythe investigators noticed the stolen Mitsubishi near Austinville around 11:20 a.m. Friday morning on Walton Furnace Road near the Carroll/Wythe county lines.
“When the Investigators attempted to take the driver into custody he fled, leading them in a vehicle pursuit that lasted 3.1 miles. The pursuit was terminated when the suspect wrecked over a bank,” Dunagan said.
Dunagan said after a brief scuffle, deputies took Beasley into custody. Beasley has been charged in Wythe with reckless driving, felony eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest, and operating a vehicle without a license. Beasley is being held in the New River Valley Regional Jail on no bond. In addition to those charges, Dunagan said Beasley was served with a Capias for failing to appear in Wythe County General District Court.
Gardner said in addition to the charges in Wythe County, Beasley has been charged with failure to stop at the scene of an accident, failure to stop for lights and siren, intentionally destroying property belonging to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office valued more than $1,000, intentionally destroying property of a residence on Photo Lane, grand theft of an automobile, damaging property on a motor vehicle (that he was operating), driving with a suspended or revoked license, attempting to willfully, deliberately and with premeditation to kill and murder a law enforcement officer, breaking and entering of a residence on Photo Lane, larceny from a residence on Photo Lane, grand larceny of a vehicle on Photo Lane, and damaging property of a home on Photo Lane.
The two-day episode began when members of Gardner’s office received a report of a possible stolen car on Photo Lane on Wednesday night. Deputies responded to the scene and located a car matching the description of a gray Pontiac that had been reported stolen out of Galax.
“As deputies proceeded down Photo Lane, a one lane dirt road, the Pontiac accelerated at a high rate of speed, missing one deputy car, but striking another deputy car head on,” Gardner said. “The damaged deputy car was driven by Cpl. Seth Greer. After striking Cpl. Greer’s car, the Pontiac struck a wooden porch on a home, then sped down the road almost striking another deputy car head-on. Cpl. Greer was able to get out of his car and fire his weapon into the stolen car.”
Gardner said the stolen Pontiac was able to continue onto Mt. Zion Road, heading toward Mill Hill Road, and fled down a driveway, behind a residence, through a field and traveled some distance off the road. Deputies gave chase on foot but were unable to locate the suspect in the heavy undergrowth and thick woods. Gardner said K-9 teams were called in from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Galax Police Department, Grayson County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police. A State Police helicopter was brought in, but was unsuccessful in its search because of fog. Officers stayed on scene in the area looking for the suspect most of Thursday.
Cpl. Greer was transported to Twin County Regional Hospital where he was examined, treated and released. Gardner said Greer was sore on Thursday but “okay.” The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation was contacted to conduct an investigation into the shooting as is Sheriff’s Office policy.
Gardner said his department received tips Thursday morning that the suspect was from Austinville.
“We were told his leg was broken, but after he was arrested he told us it wasn’t,” Gardner said. “He also didn’t appear to have been shot.”
Gardner had said Thursday his office would use DNA from blood left in the car to identify a suspect who was unknown at that point. The sheriff said that blood most likely came from the wreck with Greer’s vehicle and not from Greer shooting into the car.
Beasley had an outstanding warrant on him in Wythe County, but Gardner said he didn’t know if that was the reason the suspect ran from police twice. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured, Gardner added, calling both chases dangerous situations.
“We’re excited nobody else is hurt and it is done with. Our fear was, even in the chase in Wythe County, he was running as fast as that truck would go,” Gardner said. “He was driving on the wrong side of the road as he met people, just driving careless with no regard for anybody else, running like he had nothing to live for.”
Gardner suspects Beasley allegedly stole the pickup sometime before lunch on Thursday after the manhunt had been going for approximately 12 hours.
“We had been to the house there and saw the vehicle, but at some point he must have come back and got the car. The owner had been in and out of his house that morning and when he came back it was gone,” Gardner said.
Sheriff Gardner wanted to thank the members of the community that called in with information that led to the arrest of Mr. Beasley. Sheriff Gardner also wanted to thank the Galax Police Dept., Hillsville Police Dept., Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, Wythe County Sheriff’s Office, Pipers Gap Rescue Squad and the Virginia State Police for their assistance in this investigation.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]