FAIRMONT - A pursuit late Monday led to a Code Red alert for some western Martin County residents early Tuesday morning.
According to Martin County Sheriff Jeff Markquart, a state trooper attempted to stop a vehicle reported stolen from Oklahoma late Monday evening, sparking a car chase into Martin County.
"The chase ended south of Sherburn; the vehicle drove through a corn field, and hit a drainage ditch, and the suspect then fled on foot," Markquart recounted.
The chase ended near the intersection of 70th Street and 100th Avenue, between Manyaska and Lake Belt townships.
"We had set up a perimeter, but we still lost him, even though we had a lot of people working," said Lt. Bruce Erickson of the State Patrol branch in Marshall, which covers Jackson County. "What happened was there was a traffic stop initiated, and he stopped, but then drove off once the trooper exited his vehicle. So we never made contact with the suspect."
Along with the State Patrol and area law enforcement agencies, State Patrol helicopters from the metro area were brought in to assist in the search.
Because of the likelihood the suspect may attempt to steal another vehicle, the sheriff's department issued a Code Red warning for residents in the area, including the towns of Ceylon, Dunnell, Sherburn and Welcome.
"We covered that whole square, from Highway 4 to the Iowa state line," said Martin County Sheriff's Capt. Corey Klanderud. "We wanted to be sure people knew as soon as we had information we could share."
The Code Red call went out to about 1,000 numbers around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"It was the first time we issued a Code Red alert that wasn't weather-related," Klanderud said. "We didn't feel we could wait until 6 a.m. to issue an alert."
The alert prompted some calls from residents in the Ceylon area, such as lights on in outlying buildings, but nothing was found connected to the pursuit.
The suspect remains at large.
"We don't believe [the suspect] is a threat to the community, except for crimes of opportunity," Klanderud said. "When we sent the Code Red, we encouraged people to make sure their doors and their vehicles were locked up."
"It was a heartache, putting out an alert at 2 a.m.," Markquart added. "We know we didn't give a lot of information, but we gave what we had."
"It was a learning curve for us too," Klanderud said. "I tried to send the Code Red while out in the field tracking this guy, and it wasn't successful. But next time, we will be able to do it more efficiently and get the alert out faster."