(WFXR) — It’s been more than two weeks since the search began for a fugitive wanted for multiple charges after leading police on a chase and crashing in Craig County, sparking manhunts around southwest Virginia.
According to Virginia State Police, on Thursday, Aug. 11, the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office asked them to keep an eye out for a vehicle that was reportedly involved in the theft of lottery tickets from a gas station at exit 162 in Botetourt County. A state trooper tried to stop a vehicle closely matching the initial description of the suspect vehicle, but when the trooper activated their emergency lights, the vehicle sped away.
Police tell WFXR News the pursuit continued until the vehicle crashed in Craig County. The driver, identified as 42-year-old Shawn Michael Tolbert of Burkeville, reportedly ran away from the scene and has yet to be found, despite search efforts in multiple counties over the last two weeks.
Even though the investigation determined the vehicle Tolbert was driving was not the vehicle suspected in the Botetourt County lottery tickets theft, authorities say Tolbert is still wanted for multiple charges at this point, including the following:
- Charges from Virginia State Police:
- Three counts of felony eluding
- Three counts of reckless driving
- Charges from the Craig County Sheriff’s Office:
- Criminal trespassing
- False identification
- Two counts of felony assault on a police officer
Then, on Thursday, Aug. 18, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says word came in about a report of an attempted breaking and entering at a residence in the Brush Mountain Estates area. The investigation and photos received from that home reportedly led officials to believe that the person who was trying to break in was Tolbert.
Montgomery County authorities spent that night and the following day searching around Brush Mountain Estates for Tolbert, but it was not successful.
According to a Facebook post from Friday, Aug. 19 from the Craig County Sheriff’s Office, the last confirmed sighting of Tolbert was in the area of Pandapas Pond Road and Fortress Drive in Montgomery County, which is near the Giles County border.
As a result, Fortress Drive residents have been watching their backs after law enforcement conducted an extensive search for Tolbert.
One of those residents, Thomas Weeks, says he’s been more observant while walking around, listened to scanner feeds, and kept his doors locked.
“Most of the neighbors in [Fortress Drive] have been here 20 to 30 years, and they said in 30 years, we’ve never locked our doors,” Weeks told WFXR News. “Never done anything on this street that we had to worry about that kind of stuff.”
Weeks says residents have been keeping each other in the loop through an email chain since they haven’t heard anything from law enforcement on Tolbert’s whereabouts.
In fact, the Craig County Sheriff’s Office has not posted any updates about Tolbert since Monday, Aug. 22, which only said, “No new information or leads to report on the suspect Shawn Michael Tolbert at this time. please continue to lock your doors and vehicles.”
Meanwhile, authorities say the process hasn’t been easy.
In fact, according to Craig County Sheriff Lloyd Craddock, the sheriff’s office is short by about three positions, but “Everybody was working extended shifts and long hours.”