One of three suspects in an early morning armed robbery is in custody, but the manhunt continues for the remaining two suspects.
The suspect in custody was located walking down N.C. Highway 18 South and arrested, Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said.
The robbery occurred at the Speedway convenience store off Interstate 40 Exit 105, said Maj. Ryan Lander with the Morganton Department of Public Safety. Three men, armed with guns, robbed the store just before 5 a.m., but no one was injured during the robbery.
Two of the suspects led police on a high-speed chase in a stolen pickup truck down I-40 eastbound all the way to Mineral Springs Mountain Avenue, where the truck wrecked, police said.
A third suspect was believed to have stolen a city of Morganton water department truck from Believers Way in Morganton, Lander said. That truck was later found in North Myrtle Beach, but police later said the two incidents were unrelated.
All of the suspects were black males wearing dark clothing, Lander said. The search continues for two suspects last seen on Mineral Springs Mountain Avenue, according to a release from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. They are considered armed and dangerous.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have been called to assist with the search, including the N.C. State Highway Patrol helicopter. Sheriff Steve Whisenant said only one of the suspects has been seen since wrecking the stolen truck.
An officer sprained her knee during the a K-9 track on Mineral Springs Mountain, but has since been released from the hospital, Lander said.
Police are treading carefully as the suspects still are considered armed and dangerous. Whisenant reflected on the killing of U.S. Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp in 2014.
“In that particular situation, the suspect ambushed him,” Whisenant said. “When he, with his K-9, walked through some trees and some cover, the suspect was waiting for him and shot and killed him and his K-9 … we’ve got to think about that.”
Officers are trying to wait on the suspect to come out of the woods, Whisenant said.
“We’re going to try to continue to do what we’ve been doing, waiting for him to show his face then we’ll have officers saturating that area,” Whisenant said.
MDPS advised residents in the area to keep their doors and vehicles locked and not to approach the suspects if spotted. Instead, call 911 immediately. Anyone who can identify the suspects should call MDPS at 828-437-1211, or Morganton-Burke Crimestoppers at 828-437-3333.
Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphyMNH on Twitter.