GASTONIA, N.C. - Eyewitness News learned more information about the 17-year-old accused of choking an elderly man, stealing his car and leading police on a high-speed chase.
Police told Eyewitness News that Tommy McCray ran away from a Gastonia group home on Thursday before the crime.
"We've never seen anybody in and out of the house. They stay gone most of the time," Jeff Heavner said.
Heavner lives across the street from the group home he said opened up a month ago. Eyewitness News knocked on the door of the group home, but no one answered.
"We seen the police. They were here all morning at the house," Heavner said.
Police said McCray ran away from the group home and later choked, punched and kicked a 70-year-old man who was visiting Gastonia's mall. The elderly man was visiting Gastonia from Connecticut.
He was headed into the mall to walk and exercise. The man survived the attack, but police said McCray stole the elderly man's keys and his truck. A passerby saw everything and called 911.
"A man just got attacked in the parking lot up here and a fellow just stole his pickup truck," said the caller to the 911 operator.
The witness followed McCray along Interstate 85 until police found him. Police said the teen swerved in and out of traffic and drove up to 110 mph. The chase finally ended in Mecklenburg County, where police arrested the teenager.
Those who live across the street from McCray said they're relieved he was caught.
"My dad lives right down the street, he's in his
70s. He could have easily left from here, went two houses down and took his car or his truck," Heavner said.
McCray was jailed, with bail set at $170,000. He is slated to appear in court Friday.
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