HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The search continues early Thursday morning for a man authorities say stole weapons and a car in Virginia, then led Harrison County Sheriff's deputies on a high speed chase Wednesday.
Wednesday night, investigators released two photos of their suspect: Joseph Snow Schrotz. They believe he is still hiding in the woods of Harrison or Hancock counties after eluding authorities for hours.
It all started Wednesday around 10:20am when a deputy ran a car tag on I-10 and discovered the car was stolen. When he switched on his blue lights and siren, the driver sped away, leading deputies on a 25 mile high speed chase into Hancock County, then back into Harrison County.
Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said stop sticks were deployed twice, but the suspect was able to avoid them. A third set of stop sticks were laid out on Highway 53, but as the driver approached the area, he slowed down, jumped from the still moving vehicle, and ran into the woods north of Highway 53.
Multiple agencies, including sheriff's deputies and K-9 units from Hancock, Harrison and Pearl River counties, as well as Mississippi Highway Patrol officers have all been involved in the manhunt. Harrison County's helicopter is in the air, and authorities are posted along the Wolf River standing watch.
Two handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle were found inside the car. Investigators say the weapons and other property found inside the car were all stolen from the Virginia area. Receipts also found in the car helped investigators track the suspect all the way back to Virginia, including a stop in Mobile, AL Wednesday morning.
Surveillance photos of the wanted man give a clearer picture of who authorities are searching for. He's a Hispanic or light skinned black man, about 6' tall and 180-190lbs with short, dark hair. He was last seen wearing light colored pants and a white shirt.
Sheriff Brisolara is asking anyone who might come in contact with a man fitting this description in and around the Hwy 53/Harrison-Hancock County line area to call 911.
WLOX News spoke with several residents in the area who were staying in their homes with the doors locked. One man told us he'd be sleeping with his pistol nearby on the nightstand until this wanted man was tracked down. He even offered to help out deputies by gathering a few friends with horses to ride down the country trails with the hope of "flushing him out." No word on whether officials will take him up on that offer.