Law enforcement teams, led by the Transylvania County Sheriff's Office, planned to bring in fresh personnel Monday morning in their search for Phillip Michael Stroupe II of Weaverville, who they say is armed and dangerous.
“Law enforcement will be switching shifts and rotating special response teams to get fresh boots on the ground” Monday at daylight, the sheriff’s office said in a posting on its Facebook page Sunday night.
Stroupe, who turns 39 on Tuesday, drew deputies’ interest Saturday after the sheriff’s office in neighboring Henderson County reported a vehicle stolen during a break-in in Mills River.
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Transylvania saw the vehicle on U.S. 276 and tried to stop it. At one point, while hikers and campers were crowding the highway, the driver, who they said was Storupe, stopped and stole a mountain bike at gunpoint.
Stroupe, officials said, put the bike in the stolen vehicle and drove off again before deputies could reach him. He later parked the vehicle sideways to block the road and fled on the bike, they said.
Deputies labeled Stroupe as armed and dangerous because of the bike theft and because he has outstanding warrants in Buncombe County for kidnapping. He is to appear in Yancey County next month after an arrest earlier this year on charges of identity theft and using a motor vehicle to elude arrest, according to state court records.
Sunday, officials said, a person in the Yellow Gap Road area reported seeing Stroupe and that Stroupe displayed a gun.
Roads and trails in the Pisgah Ranger District east of U.S. 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, were told to avoid the area.
The closure includes trails and roads in the areas of Mills River, Yellow Gap Road, Turkey Pen Gap, Trace Ridge and Wash Creek.
U.S. 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.