Manhunt suspended for tractor trailer driver following Berks chase
State police trooper reportedly hanging on to truck during pursuit
A massive manhunt has ended but less than an hour later 69 News crews saw police activity on Diehl Road in Brecknock Township, not far from the scene of the chase on I-176.
Earlier Thursday Harold Augustus Davis, Jr., 56, allegedly led led police on a chase through southern Berks County after he fled a traffic stop in his tractor trailer, police said.
Davis Jr., has been in touch with police at least twice, expressing an interest to surrender but claiming to be lost somewhere in the woods.
A search for Davis lasted most of the day Thursday but was called off late Thursday evening. Police say Davis is believed to be somewhere between Reading and Philadelphia.
The drama began to unfold around 10 a.m. Thursday when the truck was stopped by police for a routine inspection on Interstate 176 near Morgantown, said Tpr. David Beohm, Pa. State Police.
Davis, of Philadelphia, handed over his Pennsylvania driver's license, which, when processed by police, revealed an outstanding warrant.
"It comes back that he's wanted out of Florida on robbery," Beohm said.
The officer at the checkpoint requested backup and ordered Davis out of the truck's cab. He didn't comply, so two of the officers deployed their Tasers, said Beohm, adding that police don't believe Davis was hit.
Davis then proceeded to drive away, with a trooper hanging onto the side mirror as Davis led officers on a 4-mile pursuit north on I-176 toward Reading, said Beohm, adding that the officer was not injured.
One of the pursuing officers, Beohm said, then managed to get his cruiser in front of the truck to slow it down while officers fired shots at its tires, as seen on dramatic video captured by a 69 News viewer. The truck, twice ramming the police cruiser, eventually veered out of control and hit a guardrail.
"I was there when the shooting went on, passing on the other side," said, one witness, Anthony Buskirk. "It was crazy. I heard at least nine shots and then the truck went into the guardrail."
That's when the slow-speed pursuit ended in the area of mile-marker four, about two miles north of Morgantown, when Davis, state police said, got out of the truck and ran off into a wooded area.
Images: Police pursuit, manhunt scene
Police officers from around the Reading area converged on the area to set up a perimeter as they search for the driver off Morgantown Road (Route 10), between Alleghenyville and Chestnuthill roads. Multiple K-9 units and a pair of state police helicopters are assisting with the search.
In addition to the Florida warrant, Davis was reported to be wanted on multiple charges of robbery, assault, forgery and shoplifting in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.
He is described as a black man who stands 5 feet, 11 inches tall with brown eyes and brown hair, wearing glasses, a brown jacket and a knit cap, with tattoos on both arms. He should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.
The northbound lanes of Interstate 176 were closed to traffic because of the large number of emergency vehicles on the scene. The Interstate has since reopened.
The manhunt also prompted what officials with the Twin Valley Area School District called a "lock-in" off all school in the district, meaning that all students were kept inside and no one was allowed to enter the buildings.
The search created quite the buzz among residents and passersby as they were left navigating around blocked roads and fearing for their safety.
"All of the roads are closed off. I'm lost. I don't know what to do," said Megan Groff.
Groff and several others spoke with 69 News while waiting in a lot on Route 10 in Robeson Township.
Police departments from all across the region swarmed the area, including K-9 units. Helicopters circled in the sky.
"This is just surreal. I feel like I'm in the middle of a movie set," said Groff.
Those who live locally said they were shocked that something like this would occur in their hometown region.
"There's never any action like this," said Nick Rovenky.
"I've never experienced this," said Amber Gensemer, of Morgantown, whose home street was blocked off by police. "It is a little horrifying. I hope they catch the guy."
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