1 arrested, 1 sought in theft of chief's car

By Matt Elofson - Staff writer - Dec. 10, 2003

ROWLAND, NC - Law enforcement officers are looking for one of two men charged with stealing an unmarked police cruiser belonging to Rowland's police chief.

The two men were being arrested Monday night by Chief Daniel Bradsher and Lt. John Reaves on multiple felony drug charges in the parking lot of Family Inn Motel on U.S. 301 in Rowland after motel personnel had reported a break-in. When the two men were handcuffed and placed in the back seat of Bradsher's vehicle, Bradsher and Reaves began to search the men's 1990 Buick.

That's when the two men managed to steal the police car, according to police.

"They were able to get into the driver's seat and drive away," said Bradsher, who had left his car running after placing the men in the back seat. "When our back was turned, they were able to gain access to the patrol car and speed away in reverse."

Law enforcement in North Carolina and South Carolina began an interstate search and, at about 11 p.m., Dillon County (S.C.) Sheriff's Office deputies arrested a Dillon man near South of the Border in connection with the theft. According to a sheriff's report, a resident near South of the Border called the Sheriff's Office to report a man wearing handcuffs had come to the door and asked for a ride.

A search led to the arrest of LeCedric McDougal, 22, of Sinclair Road, by Dillon County sheriff's Detective James Campbell. McDougal was found hiding in bushes behind a residence on U.S. 301 North. McDougal, identified by Bradsher as the driver when his car was taken, was charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Police are still looking for Earl Johnson, 24, of Hamer, S.C.

Each man has been charged with felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver crack cocaine, maintaining a drug dwelling, auto larceny, misdemeanor resisting arrest and obstructing and delay of an officer, and misdemeanor breaking and entering.

Bradsher said Johnson is also wanted on an outstanding warrant charging him with an armed robbery in South Carolina.

Bradsher's car was found abandoned at the Myrtle Beach Shop at South of the Border. There was no damage done to the vehicle.

According to Lt. Douglas Pernell, chief deputy of the Dillon County jail, McDougal is being held at the Dillon County jail without bond because he was wanted for failure to appear in court on a murder charge in South Carolina.