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Traffic stop leads to near two hour man hunt

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MASSENA - A routine traffic stop Friday morning turned into a two-hour man hunt after the driver of the vehicle fled on foot and ran into a nearby wooded area off state Route 37, near Route 56, in the town of Louisville.

State police pulled over a 2013 Chevrolet Cruz driven by Gary L. Dickens, 24, of The Bronx at approximately 11:30 a.m. for a stop that was initiated by Trooper Peter Firnstein based on an alleged speeding violation. According to court documents, Dickens was allegedly driving 81 miles per hour in the 55 miles per hour zone.

After being asked to step out of the vehicle, Dickens then allegedly fled the scene, leading to a man hunt that would ultimately involvestate police and their helicopter, Massena Village Police and their K-9 unit, the sheriff’s department, border patrol and U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents, as well as a second helicopter from U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

After a run of his driver’s licence revealed Dickens had a suspended license, he was asked to step out of the vehicle and informed he was being placed under arrest by Trooper Daniel W. Manor.

“While attempting to secure the defendant in handcuffs, the defendant resisted arrest by pulling away and then ran into the nearby woods to avoid apprehension,” Mr. Manor said in a statement, noting the immense resources used in pursuit of Dickens. “The defendant was apprehended after a two hour foot and air search by local, county, state and federal law enforcement.”

In addition to the speeding ticket and unlicensed operation charge, Dickens was charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, resisting arrest and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

As he fled the scene on foot, Shepherd D. LaPage, a border patrol agent who was off duty but driving through the area came upon the scene.

In a statement to police, Mr. LaPage described what he saw.

“As I approached I saw a black male wearing a white shirt open the door and run east on 37 towards 56. The male went off the road and jumped a page wire fence on the south side of state Route 37,” he said. “Approximately 30 yards into the open area I saw the man toss a plastic baggie away and then keep running away from the troopers. I saw the man go lie down in the brush near an old silo. I saw him there for a short time then he disappeared from view.

A short time later, another border patrol agent, Kevin White arrived on the scene. Mr. LaPage said he then told him about the baggie.

“Agent White retrieved the plastic baggie and turned it over to a female trooper,” he said.

While arraigning Dickens on the charges, which included three misdemeanors and two violations, Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow noted while the day’s charges against Dickens may not be serious, his lengthy criminal history consisted of a 17 page document detailing six felony arrests, four of which were classified as violent felonies and a total of 29 pending cases.

“A lot of resources were used today,” Judge Sharlow said, adding he also considered Dickens a flight risk.

“You’re going to sit in county jail for awhile while we decide what we’re going to do,” he said.

Dickens is scheduled to appear in Louisville Town court at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.




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