LAWTON, Okla._A Monday morning manhunt sent Lawton and Cameron University police officers searching a creek for a suspected thief who had run away after being handcuffed by campus police.
Cameron officers took DeJone Johnson into custody Monday morning on suspicion of stealing at least $500 worth of textbooks from the university's bookstore. When he was being questioned at the campus police station, Johnson forced his way through several officers and eventually escaped. Witnesses told police they saw Johnson toward Southwest 38th Street and into a creek bed. That's when their search intensified.
Cameron University and the Lawton Police Department have dealt with Johnson in the past, and he was previously banned from university property. So, when he got away from campus investigators and began the chase, they pulled out all the stops to make sure he was brought back into custody.
Train tracks, brush, police were searching all around the Wolf Creek area for Johnson, a man who Cameron University director of public safety John DeBoard says isn't new to escaping captivity.
"Oddly enough, the last time we arrested him, he had been banned from [Comanche County] Memorial Hospital property. The Lawton police were attempting to arrest him there when he escaped custody from them. Several hours later, we arrested him here on our campus," DeBoard explained.
When he did it this time around, he was escaping from Cameron University and took off toward a wooded area. Lawton police joined in the search and the Comanche County Sheriff's Department sent a K9 unit as well when Johnson wasn't immediately found. Despite the agencies brought in to search, Cameron University never went on lockdown.
"His whole point was to get away from the police. He really wasn't a threat to anyone, except the police who he was fighting because he wanted to get away," DeBoard explained.
At about 12:10 p.m., police received a tip from an anonymous caller who said a man was walking near Wolf Creek, north of Gore Boulevard. Police began checking for tracks in the mud, and even brought in a drone.
Johnson was found hiding in brush in the creek bed just before 1:00 p.m. and gave himself up without a fight. DeBoard says this is a chase the officers won't be forgetting anytime soon.
"People that you are apprehending aren't playing by the rules to start out with. All three of them looked pretty worn out when they came through the door. He is a younger man than these officers and rebounded physically quicker than they did," DeBoard said.