2 Wake county chases lead to 3 arrests, and a suspect who fired at officers on the loose

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Thursday, June 29, 2023
I-440 chase ends in crash, arrests of three suspects
Three people face charges after a pursuit that involved three law enforcement agencies in Wake County.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two separate chases kept Wake County law enforcement busy Thursday morning

Multiple suspects were taken into custody early Thursday when one pursuit ended in a crash on 440.

Wake County deputies and state troopers chased suspects in a white van through parts of Wake County. The incident ended when the van crashed on 440 East just past Poole Road.

Raleigh police say the van was reported stolen just before 6:45 a.m. in the 500 block of Dennis Avenue. The Ford F-250 had a GPS monitoring device in it enabling law enforcement officers to track it.

Deputies spotted the van at South Smithfield and Dunn roads and pursued it from Bethlehem Road onto I-87, then to New Bern Avenue and I-440. The pursuit was discontinued when the vehicle stopped on Capital Boulevard because of congestion.

After the crash, two people were taken into custody. One was injured and taken to a hospital but is expected to recover.

Merlin Pryde Knapton, and Destinee Ann Gantt.
Raleigh Police Department

Raleigh Police identified them as Merlin Knapton, 47, who was charged with felony larceny of motor vehicle, resisting a public officer, and injury to personal property, and Destinee Gantt, 27, who was charged with resisting a public officer.

RPD said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office later said a third person was charged in this case. Jose A. Velasquez, 46, has been charged with felony flee to elude, resisting a public officer, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

On Thursday afternoon, Knightdale Police said the three suspects were linked to an early morning burglary.

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Knightdale officers responded around 4 a.m. to an alarm activation at the Mack's Mart convenience store on Knightdale Boulevard. Police did not find anyone at the scene but discovered that someone had broken into the business and stolen several cartons of cigarettes. Video surveillance captured the images of three suspects and the getaway vehicle -- a white work van.

Officers later determined that the crashed van was the same one seen in the surveillance footage and that Knapton, Gantt and Velasquez were identified on video as the three burglary suspects.

All three were charged in Knightdale with felony breaking and entering, felony larceny, felony conspiracy, and felony possession of a stolen vehicle.

Shots fired at officer

In another incident, Raleigh police officers searched for a man who they say fired a gun at a police officer.

It happened early Thursday morning just off Louisburg Road and Tapers Drive.

Raleigh police officers searched for a man who they say fired a gun at a police officer.

Police responded to the Domain Apartments with much of the investigation focused on a white Kia.

Officers were seen carrying long guns and searching the area for a suspect. Raleigh Police Department said it was assisting State Highway Patrol with a chase when officers saw the suspect's car on Tapers Drive.

The driver eventually got out of the car and ran off with a Raleigh officer chasing after him.

The driver then pulled out a gun and shot it in the direction of the officer. The officer was not hit or injured, but the driver got away.

Anyone who believes they may have information on these cases is asked to visit Crimestoppers for anonymous reporting options or call (919) 996-1193.