Sylva Police arrested a man they believe might be responsible for several breaking-and-entering cases, following a brief chase in downtown Sylva Tuesday.
Before the 11 a.m. arrest, police already had the suspect, Christopher John Rice, 30, of Cashiers, on their radar.
“There was a tip that came in earlier that morning from Detective (Doug) Farmer giving his description as a suspicious person,” Sylva Police Lt. Bruce Moore said. “There had been some breaking and enterings and larcenies and things, so we were looking for him anyway, but hadn’t found him all morning.”
Moore said police received a call that someone matching Rice’s description was hiding in the bushes on Ridgeway Street near the Jackson County Library.
Sylva police went to talk to Rice and another man when surveillance cameras picked them up at Bridge Park, later in the morning. A marked police car drove into the area, and the men split up in opposite directions, Moore said.
“What they didn’t know was I was in my unmarked truck and Rice began walking directly toward me,” Moore said.
Moore was in front of Sylva’s mural on the side of Ward Plumbing and Heating on Mill Street.
“He didn’t know I was a police officer until I opened my door, and as soon as he saw me, he threw his Mountain Dew can down on the ground and took off running,” Moore said.
Moore thought Rice would run toward Main Street and circled around the block to head him off, but Rice ran toward Scotts Creek. Moore parked at the intersection of Mill and Main and followed Rice on foot.
“I could see him in the creek, but he could not see me,” Moore said. “I was radioing back to the other officers and once everybody had an idea where he was at, we all surrounded him.”
Officer Jamie Hyatt, police officer trainee McKenzie Jones, Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy C.B. Hooper and Detective Aimee Watson were on the downtown side of the creek. Moore, Chief Tammy Hooper, Assistant Chief Rick Bryson and Detective Doug Farmer were on the other side.
“So no matter which way he came out he would be intercepted by somebody with a badge,” Moore said.
Hyatt and Jones were credited with the arrest.
Rice had a knife in a sheath hanging from his belt, but the knife was not used as a threat or weapon, Moore said. No one was injured in the incident.
Police filed charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, littering, trespassing on railroad right-of-way, and resist/delay/obstruct. Rice was released from the Jackson County Detention Center on a written promise to appear.
The other man was not charged and was cooperative with police, Chief Hooper said.
Rice is a 2008 graduate of Blue Ridge School. He has a long history of trouble with the law, beginning with an arrest in 2011 for vandalism, larceny and breaking and entering a motor vehicle, records from the Sheriff’s Office show. Since then, he has been arrested on a variety of charges, including resisting arrest, possessing/concealing stolen property, possession of a firearm by a felon, driving while license revoked, failure to appear in court and various drug charges.