The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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April 29, 2013

Unable to locate suspect

ENID, Okla. — Authorities searched an area east of Enid Monday for a man who may have pointed a gun at employees of a powerline services company, but officers gave up the search after an “intensive” walk-through that lasted several hours.

Local and state police spent the morning and afternoon methodically searching wooded areas and wheat fields south of Garriott and west of 54th — both on foot and in off-road vehicles — but there was no sign of the suspect.

At about 2 p.m., police tightened the perimeter north of Market. Just after 3 p.m., officers shut down their command post and called off the manhunt.

Capt. Jack Morris, of Enid Police Department, said at about 7:30 a.m. Monday, employees of Patriot Solution discovered a man on their lot. The suspect reportedly brandished a gun and ran away, Morris said. The employees may have interrupted the man during a burglary, he said.

Patriot Solution is an electric powerline services company located at 5621 Sooner Trend, northeast of Garriott and 54th. A manager who answered the phone at the business Monday declined to comment about the incident.

Police directed units to search near the 5000 block of Market because that is where police believe they last spotted him. Morris said an Enid police officer on a traffic stop saw the suspect running through a field shortly after the 911 call came in.

Enid police requested help from Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s tactical team, and Enid officers deployed K-9 units to assist with the search. The city’s SWAT team was mobilized at 8 a.m.

OHP also sent a helicopter and an airplane, and both were seen making low passes over the fields south of Garriott. Several streets along the highway were blocked off by Enid patrol units to preserve the perimeter, which initially stretched for a mile along Garriott from 42nd and 54th, then south to Market.

Authorities let trains through the perimeter while the OHP aircraft kept an eye on the cars to make sure the suspect didn’t jump on board.

Police believe the suspect is a white male, and was wearing dark clothing and a mask. They had no further information to report about his description, and surveillance video from the scene appeared to be of little use in identifying the man.

“We really don’t have an I.D. on who he is,” Morris said. “We’re stuck at this point until something can come up or until a tip comes in.”

Several schools on the east side of Enid were locked down as a safety precaution, said Amber Fitzgerald, human resources and communications director for Enid Public Schools. Those included Adams Elementary School, Coolidge Elementary School, Garfield Elementary School, Longfellow Middle School, Monroe Elementary School, Carver Educational Center and the 4-year-old program at Greenbrier.

A spokeswoman at Pleasant Vale Elementary, 6020 E. Willow, said the school was placed in secure, or lockdown, mode Monday morning with a police officer sitting at the front door. Extra school staff were tasked outside the building as school let out.

Volunteers with Cimarron Valley Chapter of American Red Cross were on scene and provided water, snacks and lunch to the officers. Enid’s SWAT team took a break late in the morning to regroup and eat before heading back out. Jay Sharp, a spokesman for Red Cross in Enid, said EPD called and asked for help early in the hours-long search.

“That is a Red Cross service. We’re more than happy to assist,” Sharp said.

U.S. 412 remained open throughout the manhunt.

Enid Police Chief Brian O’Rourke commended the agencies that assisted during the manhunt.

“I’d like to thank OHP and their airwing, and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and Red Cross for bringing the food and drink out for the officers that were working so hard,” he said. “That was very good of them.”

O’Rourke also said the EPD got technical assistance from Vance Air Force Base’s security forces, who loaned some daytime infrared scopes.

Staff writer Phyllis Zorn contributed to this story.

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