Dangerous chase halted in Sampson

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]
Walters -

A habitual felon is in trouble again after cutting off his house arrest ankle monitor and leading law enforcement officers on a multi-county vehicle chase Tuesday that ended with a wrecked stolen vehicle in Sampson County.

At about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office received a request for assistance from the Dunn Police Department when a vehicle pursuit Dunn officers were already engaged in entered Sampson County. Sampson deputies began their pursuit on North Spring Branch Road, Dunn, near the Sampson line.

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Christopher Neal Walters, 40, was supposed to be on house arrest in Cumberland County, but had cut his ankle bracelet off earlier in the morning and was on the run from authorities, according to reports.

Authorities said Walters had recently stolen the vehicle, a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, from a gas station in Fayetteville while the owner of the vehicle was paying for fuel inside the business. Once in Sampson, officers deployed stop sticks on the stolen vehicle and were able to flatten one of the vehicles tires, but the vehicle continued to roll on with just three tires.

“The driver’s actions indicated to officers that he was severely impaired and disengaging from the pursuit and allowing the driver to continue would only further endanger the lives of innocent drivers on the roadway,” a statement issued by Sampson County Sheriff’s officials read.

After stop sticks failed to disable the Silverado, deputies readied for a “rolling road block,” a maneuver deputies are trained to perform as a last resort to stop vehicle pursuits. It closes all lanes of traffic by using pacing vehicles to block the flow.

Once the road block was in place, the driver of the stolen vehicle rammed the rear end of the lead deputies vehicle and then tried to force the secondary vehicle off of the roadway by side-swiping the deputy.

“After the driver of the stolen vehicle displayed deadly force against our deputies, our deputies responded with equal force and forced the stolen vehicle off of the roadway, ending the pursuit immediately on Maxwell Road, just inside Cumberland County,” the Sheriff’s Office statement read. “As a result of the driver’s actions towards deputies, two patrol vehicles and the stolen vehicle were severely damaged.”

Deputies Joshua Akers and A.T. Cox were listed as victims in the incident.

“Our deputies go out daily not knowing what dangers they will face by criminals,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith. “This was an example of just how dangerous law enforcement can be day to day and the risk and sacrifices each officer makes. Thankfully no officers or civilians were injured by the deadly actions displayed by this fugitive. At the end of the day, it is our job to hold the line against evil and ensure everyone goes home safe and that’s just what we did.”

Walters, whose address was listed as 5440 Wade Stedman Road, Fayetteville, was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, felony fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, careless and reckless driving, driving while impaired, reckless driving to endanger, speeding, failing to stop for stop sign/flashing red light, failure to wear seat belt and driving left of center.

Walters’ total bond on the Sampson County charges was set at $372,500 secured. The passenger was released.

Walters has a laundry list of convictions dating back to 1999. According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Walters has been convicted in cases in Cumberland, Sampson, Brunswick and Wake counties over the years. Those convictions have run the gamut, from breaking and entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods to drug possession and fraud. He was convicted as a habitual felon in 2007 and served extensive prison time, court records show.

After his release, Walters was convicted in May 2018 for breaking and entering into vehicles in Cumberland, stemming from a Christmas Day 2017 offense. He received a suspended sentence and 30 months probation, a probationary status still very much active.

Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton praised the performance of his officers for “keeping the public safe.”

“I am grateful for the outstanding job my officers performed in this high-stress incident where this fugitive tried to use their stolen vehicle as a weapon to cause potentially lethal harm to my officers,” the sheriff said. “Vehicles can be replaced, but no monetary value can be placed on my officers’ lives. These officers prevented this fugitive and impaired driver from harming innocent civilians who were on the roadway and I applaud their efforts in keeping the public safe.”

Felon in custody; three vehicles wrecked

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.