NEW INFO: Police Search For Carjacker Called Off

Washington police say the search for an armed carjacker has been called off.

A woman leaving a salon Tuesday night was carjacked, but managed to escape several minutes later.

Police say they are confident the gunman has left the immediate area, and say they are following up on some leads and still have heightened patrols in that area. They are still urging residents to take extra precautions.

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Smart thinking from a carjacking victim helped the woman's husband in tracking them down Tuesday night.

Washington police say the search for that gunman continues Wednesday, though they don't believe the man is still in the area.

Officials say they are looking for a black man with dreadlocks, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing about 200 pounds.

Lt. William Chrismon says 25 officers worked through the night patrolling the Slatestone community of Washington and nearby areas, after a carjacking that began off John Small Avenue at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Chrismon says the police response to the initial crime was so fast that an officer actually saw the gunman run off into the woods. He engaged in a brief foot chase but did not catch him.

The husband of the victim told WITN News that his wife was the last to leave Andrea's Salon & Spa and she felt the gunman was waiting on her. He said once the gunman got into the car, his wife hit her cell phone, calling the husband. He heard the conversation going on in the car and then began following directions he overheard.

He says he found the vehicle near Ridgewood Manor, with his wife already having run into the nursing home before the shooting started. The husband says the gunman fired at him, he ducked and then the gunman then ran into the woods.

Lawmen used several different tactics to try to find the gunman overnight, including K-9 and thermal imaging devices. Police say all on and off-duty personnel who were available were called to the search, which turned up no suspects.

At first light Wednesday, Lt. Chrismon says lawmen started searching the woods once again on foot. At this point, officials are looking for any piece of evidence the gunman may have left behind. They are using four-wheelers to canvass the woods so they can cover more ground faster.

"We've done everything we can do so far to ensure everyone's safety," says Lt. Chrismon. He says people should feel safe to go about their daily business, but notes people should lock their doors to their vehicles and homes as normal. Lt. Chrismon says there are several law enforcement officers still in the area, and no one should hesitate to call them if they see something unusual.

So far, police have not been able to identify the suspect they are looking for. Lt. Chrismon says detectives looked through some mug shots on file with the woman who was carjacked, but no identification was made.

Washington High School in Beaufort County was on a two-hour delay Wednesday. Students in Beaufort County don't have school Wednesday. The delay was aimed at Washington High School staff.

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Washington Police say a woman was in the Food Lion parking lot off of
John Small Avenue when a gunman forced her to get into her SUV and drive.

The woman told police she put her cell phone on speakerphone, called her husband and repeated out loud where she was going.

The suspect noticed the rear dome light of the woman's car was on.

He told the woman to pull into a driveway off of Highland Drive to turn it off.

When the woman said she couldn't turn it off, the suspect jumped into the driver's seat put the SUV into reverse and backed into a ditch where the tailpipe filled with grass and couldn't go any further.

At that time, the woman's husband showed up to the scene.

The gunman got out of the woman's SUV, fired two shots at her husband and then took off into the woods.

The search for the suspect continues. Washington Police continued to patrol the area overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Nearby nursing home Ridgewood Manor is still on lockdown.

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A carjacking suspect is on the loose in Beaufort County, forcing a Washington neighborhood into lockdown and closing parts of roadways.

Witnesses say shots were fired during the carjacking, which occurred near Ridgewood Manor Nursing Home at the intersection of Highland Drive and Keysville Avenue. Parts of those roads were closed as of 8:30 p.m.

WITN Reporter Dave Marcheskie says first responders told him the suspect attempted to carjack a driver on Highland Drive shortly before 7:00 p.m.

They told him the person fired a few shots, but that no one was injured.

That suspect then took off around the area right in front of the nursing home.

The nursing home is currently on lockdown. Police are combing the area searching for the suspect.

This happened not far from Washington High School, where a soccer game was underway. Sheriff's vehicles were seen driving down the road around the practice field, which is nearer to Highland Drive.

As of 8:00 p.m., we're told officials went to the field to notify people at the school about the incident. Police dogs were also on the scene.

Lawmen say the person they are searching for has a handgun, but they aren't sure what kind.

Stay with for more on this developing story.

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