HERTFORD — Two Perquimans County law enforcement officers were injured Wednesday while chasing a suspect believed to have been involved in at least one altercation, and possibly two, near Perquimans County High School.
Both the Hertford police officer and Perquimans sheriff’s deputy injured while chasing Travis Bryce Searcy were treated at Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton for what Hertford police Chief Dennis Brown described as “non life-threatening injuries.”
The police officer has since been released while the deputy was still at the hospital, Brown said late Wednesday afternoon. Neither officer was identified.
Meanwhile, police are searching for Searcy, who is charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting, obstructing and delaying an officer.
Brown did not have an age or address for Searcy, describing him only as a white male. A previous jail booking photo of Searcy provided by law enforcement, however, indicates he is 28.
During the chase for Searcy, which involved as many as 15 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, Perquimans County High School was locked down as a precaution. As a result, students were released about an hour and a half later than normal.
According to Brown and other officials, police received a report about 12:30 p.m. of two gunshots in the Stokes Drive/King Street area. After responding officers were able to confirm that gunshots had been fired, both the high school and Hertford Grammar School, both of which are nearby, were placed on a modified lockdown, Perquimans Emergency Services Director Jonathan Nixon said in a press release.
Brown said police found no one injured at the scene of the shooting incident and that the person responsible for the gunshots had fled. Nixon said police were able to obtain a description of the suspect but were unable to locate him.
About a half-hour later, police were notified about a fight at an apartment complex on Stokes Drive. When officers arrived, they saw a suspect run into a wooded area between the apartment complex and the high school. As a precaution, Perquimans County High School was then placed on a full lockdown, Nixon said.
According to Nixon, the suspect was moving on foot between the apartment complex, Jimmy Hunter Drive, King and Dobbs streets. Involved in chasing him were Hertford police officers, Perquimans sheriff’s deputies, and officials with the N.C. Highway Patrol, the N.C. Wildlife Commission and N.C. Probation and Parole. It was during the chase that the two officers were injured.
Tanya Turner, superintendent of Perquimans County Schools, said the high school and grammar school were advised by law enforcement to operate on a modified lockdown after the shooting incident on King Street. School officials decided to place the high school on full lockdown, however, after learning an hour later that law enforcement was pursuing someone in the vicinity of the softball field behind the school, she said.
“For this reason, there was a delay in dismissal of all students in order to ensure safe transportation home,” Turner said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The school system worked with law enforcement during the entire event in order to keep students, faculty and staff safe.”
Turner said the Perquimans schools plan to operate on a normal schedule today even as law enforcement steps up its presence in the Hertford area.
Wednesday’s lockdown of two schools came a week after two other Perquimans schools — Perquimans Central and Perquimans County Middle School — were placed on a modified lockdown after a shooting suspect from Elizabeth City was rumored to be in the Winfall area. A law enforcement search found no validity to the rumor and the modified school lockdowns were lifted.
Perquimans officials are urging anyone with information about Searcy’s whereabouts to contact the Hertford Police Department at 426-5751.