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Wanted US Navy sailor captured after fleeing to Florida

Naval Air Station-Meridian (US Navy/Released)

A U.S. Navy Sailor wanted by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office for receiving of stolen property and evading arrest was captured Thursday afternoon in Florida after it was reported he had barricaded himself at Naval Air Station-Meridian Wednesday, officials said.

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Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun said Derrick Bernard Johnson was wanted for a series of incidents beginning Friday night when deputies received notification about a stolen vehicle along Hwy 19 North. Deputies, he said, found the empty vehicle and waited to see if anyone would return.

Johnson returned to the vehicle and led deputies on a short chase down 8th Street, Calhoun said, but due to the wet roads, high speeds and reckless driving by Johnson, it was too dangerous to continue the chase. Deputies later found the vehicle abandoned and had it towed.

On Tuesday, LCSO investigators identified Johnson as a suspect and learned he was an active military member stationed at the base. The following day deputies went to NAS Meridian to take him into custody.

Calhoun said LCSO and NAS Meridian have established protocols whereby the sheriff’s department contacts JAG attorneys who take custody of the suspect and deliver him or her to deputies. In this case, he said, Johnson, who served on the base’s security force, got wind of the plan and ran into the barracks, where law enforcement believed he had barricaded himself.

“It was believed, based on the information they had, that he was in this room, this barracks,” Calhoun said.

Jeff Houston, NCIS Public Affairs, Office of Strategic Communications, said in an email officers with LCSO, NCIS and the FBI responded to the barricade report at the Naval installation.

“NCIS, the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI responded to reports of a barricade incident onboard NAS Meridian involving a U.S. Navy Sailor who was wanted by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office for possession of stolen property and evading arrest, Houston said. “Upon entry to the barracks room where the Sailor was purported to be, law enforcement officers did not find the Sailor.”

Throughout the stand off, law enforcement were in contact with Johnson through text message and believed he was still inside, Calhoun said. Ultimately, he said, officers had to breach the door and found out the room was empty.

Houston said a multi-agency search for the suspect was launched which resulted in his capture in Tallahassee, Florida.

Calhoun said LCSO is working to have Johnson returned to Lauderdale County where he will be charged with receiving stolen property and felony fleeing.

Additionally, he said NCIS, the FBI and LCSO are working to determine if additional charges are warranted.


(c) 2022 The Meridian Star

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