KEARNEY — An 18-year-old Firth man, Christian Randels, was arrested in a Wednesday car theft that led to a manhunt in the Elm Creek area.
The Buffalo County Sheriff’s office used an aerial search during the manhunt, which spanned several hours and focused on large cornfields in the Elm Creek area.
According to a sheriff’s office press release, Randels was booked in the Buffalo County Jail on charges of theft by receiving stolen property, willful reckless driving and obstructing a peace officer. Formal charges were expected to be filed after the Buffalo County Attorney’s Office reviews the case.
The manhunt ended at approximately 5:45 p.m. Wednesday when the Nebraska State Patrol apprehended a suspect in the area east of Elm Creek. The suspect was transported to the Buffalo County Jail.
The sheriff’s office reported that local law enforcement launched the manhunt after a man wanted in connection with the vehicle theft fled from the intersection of 39th Road and Cessna Road east of Elm Creek.
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At approximately 8:50 a.m. Wednesday a Kearney Police Department officer on foot observed a stolen vehicle near the Ramada Inn in Kearney. The vehicle was last observed near 11th Street and Second Avenue in Kearney.
With the assistance of the FLOCK Safety Automated License Plate Reader system, officers and deputies were able to locate the suspect vehicle and determine the direction of travel.
A broadcast was issued for the vehicle, a 2014 GMC Sierra pickup with South Dakota license plates. It was reported stolen from Sarpy County in eastern Nebraska.
A short time later, the vehicle was spotted by a Buffalo County Sheriff’s unit on Highway 30 near Eagle Road. Assistance was requested from a second sheriff’s deputy near Dunbar Road.
The driver abandoned the vehicle on Cessna Road near 39th Road. Investigators believe the suspect fled on foot into a nearby cornfield.
The suspect was described as an adult male, about age 18, 6-foot and 200 pounds.
Deputies were assisted at the scene by members of the Kearney Police Department and the Nebraska State Patrol. The search by the agencies included the use of UAV drones, police service dog K-9s and an NSP airplane.
Residents in the area were notified and the sheriff’s office requested the public’s assistance with information that might aid the manhunt.