BREVARD, N.C.-- The Transylvania County Sheriff's Department released new details Monday morning about the suspect that caused the Brevard entrance to Pisgah National Forest to be shut down.
Captain Jeremy Queen, public information officer for the sheriff's department, said the suspect Phillip Michael Stroupe II has outstanding warrants in Buncombe County for kidnapping, and was recently released from jail in Yancey County.
Pisgah National Forest was evacuated Saturday along U.S. 276, in a popular area that includes Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock and the Cradle of Forestry, after Stroupe robbed a man of his mountain bike at gunpoint, according to authorities. Prior to the chase, Transylvania County law enforcement were on the lookout for a man suspected in a breaking-and-entering incident reported in Henderson County. Queen said Stroupe has a history of resisting arrest and violence toward law enforcement.
"We're hoping at this point he's gettin' tired, gettin' hungry and hopefully he'll do the right thing and turn himself in," Queen said. "It's time to give up."
Stroupe is 5-feet 8-inches tall with a small build, authorities have said. He has a shaved head and a large distinct tattoo on his neck, just under his chin.
Queen said he was last seen by law enforcement at 10:45 a.m. Saturday.
Queen also said Stroupe threatened a man who was fishing near Yellow Gap Road with his .38 caliber revolver and attempted to coerce the man into giving him a ride out of the forest. After 30 minutes, the man was able to convince Stroupe to leave, and soon after he left the man called the police.
Those with reservations at the Davidson River Campground and some employees are still being allowed into the area, Queen said.
Police evacuated persons residing in the search area. Queen said some were forced to leave their gear behind. He estimated that more 10,000 people come through the area on a busy summer day, though he said police had not evacuated that many people.
While the search continues, some local businesses are suffering financial repercussions. The police barricade obstructs the entrances for some businesses including Hawg Wild BBQ and The Hub, an outdoor gear store.
Jordan Salman, an employee at The Hub, said the business had lost about $15,000 in sales for the three days the search has gone on, which she said she would not be able to recover with insurance.
"This is huge for us," Salman said. "July is one of the only times we actually make money."
Hawg Wild remains closed.
Law enforcement maintained a wide perimeter around the area along U.S. 276, and the search has been concentrated in the area where the suspect was last spotted. It is unknown if the suspect still has access to a mountain bike he reportedly stole Saturday, "therefore the net is being widely cast."
Queen said a command post has been set up at the Cradle of Forestry and that K9 units, helicopters and reinforcements from other police departments are being brought in to assist with the search. He added that they are prepared to continue the search until at least the end of the day.
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Queen said the helicopters have proven to be ineffective due to the forest's thick canopy, so most of the search is being conducted on foot, sometimes in treacherous terrain.
"They are out there working hard," Queen said. "They are tired, hungry, thirsty, but they are pressing on."
Drivers along the stretch of highway reported on social media over the weekend that traffic was backed up for miles exiting the forest, and that law enforcement officers were stopping vehicles at checkpoints along U.S. 276, causing long waits.
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