By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A McDowell County man faces multiple charges after allegedly being caught with a mobile meth lab and fleeing the scene in a sheriff’s department vehicle.
Ricky Monroe Johnson of Panther, no age available, was in the Panther area when deputies with the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department conducted a traffic stop, Sgt. James E. Muncy said in a press release issued Monday evening. The incident occurred at approximately 12:57 p.m.
Deputies were able to determine that Johnson was driving under the influence, Muncy said. During their investigation, the deputies found a mobile methamphetamine lab actively operating in the front seat of Johnson’s pickup truck. Johnson was handcuffed and placed in the back of a sheriff’s cruiser.
The deputies called for backup, and during the traffic stop, Johnson was able to get his hands, which were cuffed behind his back, to his front and steal the cruiser, Muncy said. There was no divider or “cage” that keeps suspects in the back seat.
Other members of the sheriff’s department and the West Virginia State Police gave chase and were able to apprehend Johnson after a pursuit lasting about 30 minutes, Muncy said. He was found in the Panther area.
“He went to his parents’ home and went into the woods,” Muncy added. Johnson was caught after a brief search.
Johnson has been charged with operating a clandestine lab, fleeing in a vehicle (a felony), fleeing other than vehicle, obstructing an officer, grand larceny, DUI, and fleeing while DUI, Muncy said. Johnson was at the McDowell County Holding Unit awaiting arraignment Monday evening.