CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Neighbors said they are living in fear after police swarmed their neighborhood with guns drawn Tuesday.
More than 24 hours later, they still feel afraid even after police arrested five men.
Before Tuesday’s scene unfolded, police said the men went on a crime spree, breaking into two homes in east Charlotte and an apartment.
Channel 9 spoke to a neighbor who said he watched it happen and even called police.
Detectives said they have charged Larry Thomas,17, Marlow Johnson, 26, Nico Benn, 18, Tyrell Brace, 16, and Milton Dunlap, 18, in connection to the case.
The five men faced a judge Wednesday facing a number of charges ranging from felony breaking and entering to larceny and resisting an officer.
Channel 9 also spoke with two victims and a witness who said they are glad the crime spree is over.
They didn’t want to be identified because they said they are still shaken up about what happened.
Police said the string of break-ins ended with a police chase and multiple arrests.
Channel 9 obtained the police reports which detail what led up to the arrests.
The following are details from those reports:
•11:14 a.m. – Officers were called to Siegle Avenue for a report of a break-in.
“With a crowbar they popped my door open,” the victim told Eyewitness News.
•12:30 p.m. – A break-in was reported on Snow Bird Lane. A neighbor said he saw a strange car, got its license plate number and called police.
“When you see someone throwing a flat-screen TV in the back of a Suburban, two and two isn’t adding up,” the witness told Channel 9.
•12:42 p.m. – A break-in was reported to police on Filbert Lane. The victim told Eyewitness News that the men went through her window and took TVs.
“The screen is gone,” she told Channel 9.
Police said they pierced together witnesses’ descriptions and tracked the suspects in a black SUV by helicopter.
They tried to pull it over, but CMPD said the suspects wouldn’t stop, leading troopers on a chase until the car crashed and the men were arrested.
The witness Channel 9 spoke with said he is glad he called police, hoping he prevented other crimes.
“If they did it once in this neighborhood, they would do it again,” the witness said.
The victims told Channel 9 they don’t know why they were targeted.
“Thank God we’re alive, materials we can buy, but a life you can’t buy,” said one of the victims.
“I feel at peace now knowing they got caught and won’t hurt anyone else,” said another victim.
On Tuesday, Channel 9 reported that shots may have been fired at police. CMPD told Channel 9 that officers did find a weapon. They said it looks like one of the suspects tried to use it, but it didn’t fire.
In court on Wednesday, the family of one of the suspects, Milton Dunlap, told the judge he was wrongly arrested. Dunlap is facing several charges, including felony breaking and entering, assault on a government official and larceny.
Troopers told Eyewitness News that Dunlap was the driver of the SUV that ran from police, then crashed in a yard.
But on Wednesday, Dunlap’s family told Channel 9 this is a case of mistaken identity.
They said he is a good kid who has never been in trouble. They want him released and the charges dropped.
“It shows me this was a case of mistaken identity,” said mother Kim Richardson. “It’s a nightmare. I hate this for him because he has never been in any trouble.”
Dunlap’s sister, Tamia Richardson, said she was home with her brother and their father when the alleged break-ins were happening. She said her brother never left the house until police were in their neighborhood looking for suspects. Then she said he went outside and drove off to go put gas in the car, but police had the road blocked so he went back home. After Dunalp was back inside his home, Richardson says that police made him come out. She said that is when police detained him and then arrested him.
“They said he fit the characterization, like how the person they described, how he looked,” Tamia Richardson said.
CMPD sent Channel 9 a statement saying, “A trooper from Highway Patrol identified Milton Dunlap as an occupant of the vehicle. The trooper observed Dunlap jump from the vehicle and run into a nearby home. A CMPD officer also observed Milton Dunlap run into the home. Dunlap was arrested a short time later.”
Channel 9 called state police. They say that the trooper who was chasing the vehicle saw Dunlap get out of the car and run into a home.
Dunlap’s mother said she wants the charges dropped so her son’s future isn’t hurt.
“I would want them dropped. I would want them expunged. I would want an apology. I would want his record clear,” Kim Richardson said.
Richardson told Channel 9 that Dunlap’s father was also inside the house when police stared questioning his son. She says the father was also detained, but then released.