Law enforcement shut down access to part of Pisgah National Forest on Sunday during a manhunt for an armed and dangerous suspect.
Phillip Michael Stroupe II, 38, of Weaverville, is considered armed and dangerous by authorities. He has outstanding warrants in Buncombe County for kidnapping and has pending charges in Yancey County, according to the sheriff’s office.
Roads and trails on the Pisgah Ranger District east of Highway 276 and south of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed on Sunday, according to a news release from the National Forest Service. Visitors to the forest near Asheville should avoid the area which includes trails and roads in the Mills River area, Yellow Gap Road, Turkey Pen Gap, Trace Ridge and Wash Creek.
Highway 276 also was closed from the Pisgah Ranger District office to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Attractions along that stretch of road were closed Sunday, including Sliding Rock, Cradle of Forestry, Looking Glass Falls and Pisgah ranger station visitor center.
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Stroupe is described as a white man, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a small build, shaved head, large neck tattoo under his chin. He has a history of violence and resisting law enforcement, according to the sheriff’s office.
Deputies responded Saturday to a call in Henderson County of a breaking and entering in Mills River near the Transylvania and Henderson county line. Later that morning, deputies found a vehicle in the forest just off Highway 276 that matched the description from the breaking and entering. When a deputy tried to stop the vehicle on Avery’s Creek Road, Stroupe refused to stop and a vehicle chase began.
At one point, Stroupe allegedly left his vehicle and stole a mountain bike while pointing a handgun at the bike’s owner, according to the sheriff’s office. Stroupe put the bike in his vehicle and the chase continued. Deputies couldn’t make contact with Stroupe during that incident because of the number of hikers and campers on the roadway, according to the sheriff’s office. Stroupe then parked his vehicle sideways on the road, blocking it, got on the stolen mountain bike and fled into the woods.
A perimeter was set up in the area and the sheriff’s office special response team was called to find Stroupe. Other agencies assisting in the manhunt included the Brevard Police Department, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement, N.C. Highway Patrol (including helicopter support), Henderson County Sheriff’s Office (including special response team), N.C. State Bureau of Investigations and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
Anyone with information should call the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office at 828-884-3168.