GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — A Goldsboro man is facing multiple charges after authorities said he snatched a woman’s purse, stole cartons of cigarettes and then led Wayne County deputies on a high-speed, wrong-way pursuit.
Dennis James Martin Jr., 37, is accused of committing multiple crimes beginning on Tuesday evening.
According to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, a woman inside a business had her purse snatched around 6:45 p.m. while she was sitting down and the man who snatched it ran out of the business. The victim gave chase and followed the man as he got into an older model Oldsmobile and attempted to drive away. Authorities said the woman reached inside the vehicle and attempted to turn the keys and shut the car off. The man drove off and dragged the woman for a short distance before she fell off.
The woman was scraped up, suffered minor lacerations and bruising, authorities said. She was transported to Wayne UNC Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Following interviews with witnesses and watching surveillance footage, deputies identified the suspect as Martin.
Less than 30 minutes later, just after 7:05 p.m., multiple victims inside a Dollar General located at 3334 U.S. 13 South reported that a man entered the store and put a soda down on the counter and asked for four cartons of cigarettes, the sheriff’s office said. Once the clerk put the cartons on the counter and rang up the order, the man grabbed the cigarettes and ran from the store without paying.
The suspect jumped into an older model car and fled the scene. The value of the cigarettes was $245.33, according to the sheriff’s office.
As the investigation into the incident progressed, authorities were able to identify the suspect as Martin.
Once Martin was identified as the suspect in both crimes, detectives were able to secure warrants for arrest on Martin for felony common law robbery and felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. A warrant was also obtained for felony larceny from the person for the cigarette theft, the sheriff’s office said.
According to the sheriff’s office, on Wednesday, detectives learned that Martin was in the area of West Grantham Street and authorities responded to the area to arrest Martin for the outstanding warrants.
As law enforcement officers approached Martin, he fled the area in a 1997 Oldsmobile and entered U.S. Highway 70 West “in an extreme[ly] careless and reckless manner” and drove westbound on U.S. 70, authorities said.
After driving at a high rate of speed and blowing through red lights, Martin crossed the median, traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes of traffic before eventually turning off a side road and running through a fence and gate, authorities said. Martin is then said to have started driving back towards U.S. 70 and then drove eastbound in the direction of Goldsboro.
A deputy attempted to put stop sticks down on the highway in order to end the chase, but according to authorities, Martin saw what the deputy was doing and intentionally drove towards the deputy, which caused him to have to retreat from the highway to avoid being hit by the Oldsmobile.
Martin is said to have then crossed over the median where he then drove eastbound in the westbound lanes “well in excess of 100 mph” on U.S. 70. Traffic in the westbound lanes had to swerve out of the way to avoid being hit by Martin’s Oldsmobile, the sheriff’s office said.
Martin eventually turned off U.S. 70 onto Claridge Nursery Road where he encountered the deputies that had been pursuing him as well as other deputies that had been approaching him from the other direction, authorities said.
Once seeing that he was surrounded by deputies, Martin slowed his vehicle and was forced to stop by deputies who used their patrol vehicles to pen him in. He was taken into custody without incident, the sheriff’s office said.
In addition to the felony common law robbery, felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and felony larceny from the person charges, he is now charged with felony speed to elude arrest, speeding, careless and reckless driving to endanger, felony assault on government officer with a deadly weapon, two counts of injury to personal property, two counts of drive wrong way on dual lane highway, fail to stop to red light, injury to real property, and no operators license.
Martin’s bond was set at $230,000.