Schools locked as police chase robbery suspect

Mar. 05, 2013 @ 07:15 PM

Four Durham schools were locked Tuesday as police chased a robbery suspect and found him in a field behind an elementary school.

No one was hurt.

The chase began about 12:29 p.m. A member of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force tried to stop a vehicle believed to be driven by a robbery suspect on Alston Avenue near Cecil Street, Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said.

The driver refused to stop, and officers chased the vehicle for a short distance before losing sight of it.

A short time later, Michael said, police found the vehicle abandoned on Red Oak Avenue. They surrounded the area to search for the suspect, identified as Darryl Wayne Stephens, 30, of Durham.

Hillside High School, Shepard Middle School, Fayetteville Street Elementary School and W.G. Pearson Elementary School were locked as a precaution during the search. Police found Stephens in a field behind Fayetteville Street Elementary School shortly before 1:30 p.m., Michael said.

Chip Sudderth, a spokesman for Durham Public Schools, said the schools locked their outer doors.

“At no time were our students and staff in danger, and we are dismissing on regular schedule,” he said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

Stephens was wanted on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony conspiracy and second-degree kidnapping in connection with a Feb. 11 armed robbery at Cruizers at 3578 Hillsborough Road. Two armed, masked men robbed the business shortly before 10:30 p.m.

Stephens also was charged with kidnapping a man from a parking lot in the 900 block of Fayetteville Street Thursday and forcing him at gunpoint to drive to the State Employees Credit Union at 504 S. Duke St.

The victim was forced to go into the credit union, but the suspect ran out of the building when an investigator was alerted to a disturbance in the lobby, police said.

The suspect fled in a green Acura occupied by three other men.

Stephens is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and three counts of felony conspiracy in connection with the case.

He also was arrested on charges from a domestic incident Nov. 10, 2012. Those charges included assault on a female, misdemeanor larceny and habitual misdemeanor assault, a felony. He also faces traffic charges from Tuesday’s chase.

Stephens was in the Durham County Jail Tuesday under a $500,000 bond.

Herald-Sun News Editor Wes Platt contributed to this story.