JEFFERSON-Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said this morning Skylar Branson, 19 – a suspect who the ACSO has searched for since a Feb. 26, car chase that ended near the Tennessee line – has been taken into custody.
Branson’s arrest came at a home in Clifton on Hardin Gilley Road just off NC-88 around 10 p.m. Williams said the arrest was made following a short standoff, and was completed with the help of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“When we started pounding on the door he shut off all the lights and ran to one of the back bedrooms and wouldn’t communicate,” Williams said. “I think when he realized our guys weren’t going anywhere he decided to come out.”
Branson was taken into custody without incident and was hit with numerous charges including felonious restraint, felony flee and elude arrest with a motor vehicle, along with misdemeanor charges including possession of a stolen firearm, reckless driving, fail to heed light and siren, resisting a public officer, assault by pointing a gun, communicating threats, possession of marijuana greater than half ounce, and hit and run.
He remains in the Ashe County Jail on $57,500 secured bond.
The initial search for Branson began early on the afternoon of Feb. 26. Williams said Branson and an unidentified female were having an argument in a car. Williams said the altercation occurred in the Horse Creek area of Ashe County.
“According to her she jumped out of the car to get away from him and ran into a nearby house,” Williams said. “He came in the house behind her, grabbed her, took her back to the car and threw her in the car, and may have had a weapon on him at the time. He got back in the car and the pair drove away.”
Williams said the owner of the home then called 911, which sent the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office in pursuit. Two ACSO Detectives, Dennis Anders and David Upchurch, soon spotted Branson’s vehicle and pursued the car for several miles up NC-88 until Branson lost control trying to make a turn and slammed the car an embankment.
Williams said Branson exited the vehicle and escaped into the woods on foot at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 26. Since the chase ended near North Carolina’s border with Tennessee, Williams said the Johnson County, Tenn. and Watauga County Sheriff’s Offices were also alerted to the situation.
“He had a handgun on him and we seized two other weapons in the car, along with ammunition,” Williams said. “He also had a ballistic vest with a steel plate that he dropped while he was heading into the woods.”
Williams said two officers tracked Branson through the snow for another 90 minutes when the sun began to set.“I had to make a determination about the crime that was committed and how dangerous the situation was,” Williams said. “We know he had a gun on him – maybe more – but he hadn’t murdered anybody and you have to make a call. Is this worth getting into a shooting situation over and getting one of my guys hurt or hurting him?”
But it may have been Facebook taunts that led, in part, to Branson’s arrest, Williams said.
“While we were searching for him he was running his mouth on Facebook about us and the chase,” Williams said. “That ultimately helped…lead us to him.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr.