MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Thanks to the collaboration between state and local law enforcement agencies, a manhunt spanning 19 days and multiple counties came to an end in Dublin on Tuesday with the arrest of a fugitive.

According to Virginia State Police, on Aug. 11, the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office asked them to keep an eye out for a vehicle that was involved in the theft of lottery tickets from a gas station at exit 162. 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.

Even though the investigation determined the vehicle Tolbert was driving was not the vehicle suspected in the Botetourt County lottery tickets theft, authorities previously reported that Tolbert was wanted for the following charges:

  • 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
    • Obstruction
    • False identification
    • Two counts of felony assault on a police officer

Tolbert managed to avoid authorities in Craig County and Giles County in the days following the crash.

However, on Aug. 18, Brush Mountain Estates in Montgomery County became the unlikely host of a manhunt, with law enforcement spending days searching for Tolbert near the neighborhood off Route 460 following a report of breaking and entering.

“I think some people are extremely relieved and they would be the ones who were concerned, but we were not the only ones who felt it had gone beyond what was necessary,” said June Johnson, who lives in Brush Mountain.

According to Johnson, the size of the law enforcement presence in the neighborhood and the length of their stay felt disproportionate to Tolbert’s alleged crimes.

“It was after seeing pictures and after hearing what he’d been accused of that then I started feeling certainly less anxiety, and some concern for him or understanding of him,” said Johnson.

“Honestly, if I had run into him, I probably would’ve felt bad for him. He’s out in the woods doing whatever, probably hungry,” said another Brush Mountain resident, Mike Rentschler.

Rentschler and his family reportedly assumed Tolbert had left the area after a week or so, but the lack of updates was concerning.

“I kind of trust the police to do their job,” Rentschler said. “They would notify us if they needed to, I would kind of figure, but I guess it was a little bit odd that we had such a big presence for at least those few days and then it just kind of fizzled away to nothing.”

It wasn’t until Saturday Aug. 27 that a Dublin resident picked up Tolbert on Route 460, not knowing he was a fugitive, and took him to Pulaski County, where Tolbert was eventually arrested on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Tolbert had been living in a bus in the man’s backyard.

Rentschler says that the Montgomery County community has an email chain, adding that some residents in the Brush Mountain area had been much more concerned about Tolbert’s whereabouts and were relieved by his arrest.