UNCG police officer says his time on campus as a student helped locate escaped inmate

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Officer Zachary Lynch says it’s the most significant arrest of his career, so far.

Lynch was sworn in to the UNCG Police Department less than a year ago but was part of the department’s Student Ranger Program, providing additional security on campus.

He said that training came in handy Friday when he encountered an escaped inmate accused of stealing an SUV and injuring an officer.

“When I saw him, I had an instant adrenaline rush because he had overpowered a deputy and stolen a vehicle and other felony level crimes,” Lynch said. “I thought he was going to run from me, so I had my hand on the gearshift here just to put it in park and run after him.”

The suspect, Joshua Stewart, surrendered. Greensboro police had given officers in the area his description, and Lynch noticed that a sweatshirt was concealing Stewart’s handcuffs.

“I relied back on my training that I learned through the academy, through what the UNCG Police Department has taught me, and I used that to apprehend him really and just stay calm the whole time,” Lynch said.

The arrest followed a six-hour search surrounding the area. Lynch said he was thankful students weren’t on campus during that time.

“They would more than likely come in contact with him. He probably would have tried to talk them into finding something to take out the handcuffs, potentially go in a dorm. Or in the worst case scenario, take someone hostage like a student,” Lynch said.

Chief Paul Lester said the Ranger Program allows students interested in law enforcement to build a foundation for their career and familiarize themselves with the campus community.

“You get familiar with the culture of campus. You get familiar with things that might be a little bit out of place. You recognize as many of the Rangers do, as many of the officers do. You begin to recognize things that may be not normal,” he said.

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