Daring Daylight Theft

Cecil Burkhart, age 45, of Oak Grove Road (Manchester) is facing 22 charges after a daring daylight theft of a work truck in the parking lot of Manchester City Hall Friday morning. He then led police on a chase that ended on Westerfield Lane just off HWY 472 (Fogertown Road) near the Clay/Laurel line. He also picked up a passenger on the way and threw a gun out of the vehicle during the chase.

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The morning began when Manchester Police Officer Kelly Johnson was called to the scene of an apparent theft attempt of a Clay County Board of Education van by breaking out a window before a School Board employee confronted him. Johnson then obtained a warrant on Burkhart and several police agencies began a search. He made his way to site of the new Manchester Fire Station were he stole a work truck belonging to Johnny Dean Wolfe. Wolfe is the father-in-law of Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson.

Deputies Drew Jackson and Brandon Edwards observed the stolen 2005 Dodge pickup on US 421 North. When Burkhart turned onto HWY 472 Jackson activated the emergency lights and followed the stolen vehicle to Muncy Fork Road, Robinson Creek, down Alderson Branch back to HWY 472 and finally on Westerfield Lane. Burkhart fled on foot over an embankment and was caught in a briar thicket next to a creek. He then tried to fight the police officers and continued to resist until he was secured and placed in the cruiser.

A passenger in the stolen vehicle, Thomas Hensley, age 27 of Gum Branch Road (Manchester) was placed under arrest by Manchester Police Officer Antonio Dodson. Hensley told officers Burkhart had thrown out a gun near Muncy Fork and Dodson and Deputy Sheriff Michael Cagle were able to recover the stolen firearm.

The stolen truck suffered thousands of dollars in damage and was out of operation. Officer’s uniforms were also damaged during the attempted to place Burkhart under arrest. Manchester Police Chief Chris Fultz and Assistant Chief Patrick Robinson assisted at the scene.