Suspect charged after police chase across 3 ENC counties

Crime Tracker

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Jacksonville Police say a suicidal man has been charged after he led deputies on a police chase across three Eastern North Carolina counties on Thursday.

According to Jacksonville Police, at 1:00 AM Thursday, officers responded to a call about a possibly armed subject who caused a disturbance at a home in the Carolina Forest area and then left the area by vehicle. 

A short time later, officers located a vehicle matching the description at McDonald’s, located at Gum Branch and Western. 

The subject, Samuel James Rivera, 27, of Hickory, was speaking with family members who came to the location to meet him. 

Officers confirmed that the subject was armed. 

While officers speaking with the subject were attempting to de-escalate the situation, Rivera became agitated, crashed his vehicle into another and fled the area at a high rate of speed.

With the assistance of the Richlands Police Department and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, officers pursued the subject into the area of Wiggs Street in Richlands.

Rivera attempted to elude police by hiding his vehicle among the tree line with other vehicles but was quickly located by the officers.

Rivera attempted to flee officers again when his vehicle became stuck and he abandoned the vehicle, fleeing on foot.

Responding officers set up a perimeter and deployed a K-9 unit to search the area. 

Officers again attempted to de-escalate the situation. 

During this search, Rivera doubled back to the area and stole the JPD K-9 SUV. Rivera again fled the area at a high rate of speed.

Officers were able to talk to Rivera on the police radio and to obtain voluntary compliance and resolve a situation without the use of force, which makes the encounter safer for everyone, includ­ing Mr. Rivera.

These tactical communication skills are especially important in dealing with persons who are in crisis.

The pursuit continued to NC Highway 70 and included assistance from NC SHP, Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, Kinston Police Department, and Jones County Sheriff’s Office. 

Jacksonville Police Officers were able to communicate with Rivera during the pursuit, ultimately convincing the subject to surrender. 

Rivera stopped the K-9 vehicle in the area of US 70 Eastbound near the Lenoir and Jones County line. 

He was taken into custody without further incident. 

There were no injuries and there was no damage to the K-9 SUV. 

Rivera is undergoing an assessment at Onslow Memorial Hospital. 

Rivera was charged with felony larceny of a motor vehicle, hit and run, reckless driving to endanger, felony possession of a firearm by a felon, felony flee/elude arrest with a motor vehicle, resist/obstruct/delay a public officer and speeding.

He received a $32,000 bond.

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