This story will be updated as we receive more information.
(Update – 9:38 a.m.): The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release regarding the situation:
“The Lee County Sheriff Office deputies were called to 97 Deep River Road to investigate suspicious people in a red vehicle. The responding deputy located a red Kia Soul in the parking area and activated his blue lights and attempted to approach the vehicle. At that point the operator of the red vehicle backed into the direction of the deputy attempting to run the deputy over. At that point the deputy fired his duty weapon into the vehicle and at which time the driver of the red vehicle fled the scene. The deputy on scene gave chase which ended in the city limits of Sanford. During the chase the deputy struck a median on Steele Street resulting in a crash into a retail establishment on Steele Street. The driver of the vehicle abandoned the vehicle at 319 Steele St. and fled on foot.
The driver of the vehicle was located under a house with the assistance of Sanford Police Department and a K9 unit from Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. Cory Dexter Fennell, 37, 1073 Austin Drive, Fayetteville, was arrested and charged with first degree attempted murder and felony/elude arrest in a motor vehicle. He was held under $350,000 secured bond. (Fennell was not injured in this incident)”
(Update – 8:48 a.m.): The Rant has received confirmation that Fennell is the suspect arrested after the chase. He is reportedly accused of attempting to ram Sgt. Oldham, the deputy who was hospitalized, with his vehicle.
ORIGINAL STORY: WRAL is reporting that a Lee County sheriff’s deputy was hospitalized after crashing into a downtown business while chasing a suspect early Monday morning.
Multiple sources have told the Rant that the deputy is Sgt. Jeff Oldham. Oldham is reported to have attempted to stop a vehicle – a Red Kia Soul, according to WRAL’s report – in the Deep River area when the driver fled.
Oldham chased the car into downtown Sanford, where he crashed into the front of 128 S. Steele St., the location of the old Hi-Lites store. The building had been sold earlier this month to a couple with plans to place a boutique store there.
Authorities have not provided any information about the incident or Oldham’s condition as of 7:28 a.m. Meanwhile, WRAL reports that authorities arrested a suspect about a half a mile away from the scene of the crash.
Again, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t formally provided any details about the situation as of Monday morning, but a search of the department’s jail website shows a Fayetteville man, 37-year-old Cory Fennell, having been arrested and booked early Monday morning on charges of fleeing to elude arrest, attempted murder, and a probation violation from Cumberland County. The Rant has not been able to confirm that Fennell’s charges are related to the downtown crash, but he is in custody under a $350,000 bond.
See video and photos below: