Thirty law enforcement agencies have evacuated thousands of summer tourists from the North Carolina woods where a manhunt is under way for an armed white supremacist.
“Police evacuated people in the search area, many of whom were forced to leave outdoor gear behind,” the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
Capt. Jeremy Queen of the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, “estimated that more 10,000 people come through the area on a busy summer day, though he said police had not evacuated that many people.”
Authorities allege that Phillip Michael Stroupe – who goes by the nickname “White Mike” – robbed a man at gunpoint, stealing his mountain bike, after escaping a traffic stop
Stroupe allegedly then threatened another man with a .38-caliber revolver while trying to coerce a ride out of the forest.
“A police barricade obstructed entrances for businesses including Hawg Wild BBQ and The Hub, an outdoor gear store,” the Citizen-Times reports. “Employees at The Hub said the business since the search got underway had seen sales drop 15-20 percent, a loss they would be unable recoup with insurance.”
“Nick Busby, who runs the Velvet Cup, a coffee truck near the Pisgah National Forest entrance, said he lost about $500 because of the closure,” Citizen-Times added. “Maggie Kaufman, an employee at Blue Smoke BBQ, a food truck across from the Hub, said the business had lost close to $1,000.”
“We’re hoping at this point he’s getting tired, getting hungry and hopefully he’ll do the right thing and turn himself in,” Queen said. “It’s time to give up.”
Those searching are feeling similar effects.
“They are out there working hard,” Queen said. “They are tired, hungry, thirsty, but they are pressing on.”
Stroupe has a large swastika tattooed on his stomach, shown here in a photo the suspect posted on Facebook:
“Stroupe is considered armed and dangerous, and has a history of violence and resisting law enforcement,” Fox Carolina reported. “Deputies said he has outstanding warrants in Buncombe County for kidnapping, as well as pending charges in Yancey County.”
“Although authorities aren’t saying if Stroupe is affiliated with any specific hate group, he may have developed ties to white supremacy gangs while doing extensive time in prison. He was first sentenced to prison in 1999 after being convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon,” the Southern Poverty Law Center explained. “He also has convictions for assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, identity theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, communicating threats and reckless driving. Just last month, he was charged with committing an armed robbery in Weaverville, North Carolina.”
In 2003, authorities arrested Eric Rudolph for domestic terrorism after Rudolph had spent five years as a fugitive in the North Carolina woods.
Rudolph perpetrated the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, GA, the 1997 bobming of an abortion clinic, the 1997 bombing of a lesbian bar and a 1998 bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, AL.
Stroupe is said to have survivalist skills and was last seen wearing camouflage.