By Patrick McCreless
ARKADELPHIA — More than 50 law enforcement officers surrounded an Arkadelphia trailer for approximately 7 hours Saturday under the belief an armed escapee was inside — only to find he was nowhere in the area.
“There was no question he was seen going into the trailer,” said Cullman County Sheriff Tyler Roden. “But he evidently had slipped out by the time a perimeter was set up.”
Roden identified the suspect as 28-year-old Christopher Kahn Laye. He is supposedly armed with an AR-15 assault rifle. He is described as a white male with short hair, approximately 6 feet tall and weighing between 180 and 200 pounds.
Officers from several agencies surrounded the residence, located on Highway 91 near the 10-mile marker, after an Alabama State Trooper in a helicopter witnessed Laye run inside the trailer around 11 a.m.
Agents launched tear gas into the trailer and sent in a robot to check out the scene around 5:30 p.m., said Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper.
Alabama State Troopers sent the robot with a telephone into the trailer just after 3 p.m. to make contact. Agents used megaphones earlier in the day.
Cullman County Sheriff Tyler Roden said the suspect had escaped custody from Sumiton police Friday night after he was arrested during a meth lab bust.
“After he gets into custody, he steals a police car,” Roden said. “He may still have some of their firearms in his possession.”
Roden said at some point in time, Laye and another individual stole another vehicle. A patrol deputy stopped the vehicle Saturday morning at County Road 8 and County Road 35, he said.
While the deputy successfully arrested the passenger, Laye managed to escape again.
“He fled the scene in the vehicle,” Roden said.
Although unconfirmed, a Cullman County Sheriff’s deputy at the scene said Laye fired at least one shot at another deputy before entering the trailer.
Nobody was at the trailer when the suspect entered, Roden said.
Sandy Johnson of Warrior, who was at the scene said Jonathan Taylor owns the trailer and is one of her employees. She said he was in Talladega watching the races and could not make it back.
Owner of a company that videos and examines sewer lines for cities, Johnson said much of her equipment is stored out in front of the trailer.
“He (Taylor) said this was a safe place,” Johnson said with a laugh. “We were just here yesterday working on the equipment. It’s very expensive. I hope he (suspect) doesn’t shoot our stuff.”
‰ Patrick McCreless can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.
By Patrick McCreless
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