The suspected driver of a BMW who led authorities on a short chase Monday night that ended when a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper crashed their cruiser into a bridge support and died is now in custody, officials say.
Dakota Kape Whitt, 22, of Elkin, was taken into custody Wednesday around 3:30 a.m. after an extensive search by state and local authorities. On Tuesday, authorities said Whitt would be charged with murder, felony fleeing to elude arrest in a motor vehicle, and driving with a revoked license.
The charges stem from the fatal crash that occurred Monday night.
The crash happened shortly before 11 p.m. on Interstate 77 southbound near mile marker 80.
According to officials, two troopers were running a drivers’ license checking station in the area when a vehicle drove through the checking stations without stopping. At that point, the troopers got in their cruisers and pursued the driver who drove through the checkpoint.
During the pursuit, the primary trooper leading the chase noticed the other trooper was no longer behind him, according to officials. The lead trooper turned around and traveled northbound on I-77 and saw that the trooper had crashed.
The law enforcement officer who died has been identified as Trooper Samuel Newton Bullard, 24, a three-year veteran with highway patrol. He was assigned to Surry County and was from Wilkes County.
Authorities said that it appears Bullard ran off the right side of the road, struck a bridge support and came to a rest near mile marker 80.
The chase lasted about three minutes.
Highway patrol worked with other law enforcement agencies to locate the suspect and the vehicle, officials said.
Whitt was transported to the Wilkes County Detention Center where he is being held.
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