DENTON, N.C. — A man is in custody more than two weeks after a robbery and assault in Denton, according to Randolph County Sheriff Greg Seabolt.
Dustin Diehl was initially wanted on charges of assault, felony fleeing to elude arrest and resisting, obstructing and delaying connected to an incident on Jan. 20.
On Thursday, Seabolt posted a photo on Facebook of officers arresting a shirtless man covered in tattoos. The man’s face tattoos match those of Diehl’s mugshots.
At about 7 a.m. Thursday, Diehl was found in a home on the 200 block of Cabin Creek Road. Investigators say he had barricaded himself in the false bottom of a home.
Law enforcement officials tell FOX8 he was hiding in a bunker beneath a house his girlfriend rented, and a child also lived in.
Many neighbors told us they had no idea Diehl was there, but one man says he spoke to Diehl a few times over the last two weeks. He didn’t want to go on camera but told FOX8 he’s seen him go in and out of the house. He didn’t realize he was a fugitive.
“Just knowing the guy was in our woods, in our buildings, in the barns around us and then he was on my porch. That was the scariest thing of all,” Tammy Mabe said.
“They had people worried. He had people worried,” Matthew Nance said.
Worried, until Randolph and Davidson County deputies along with U.S. marshals moved in on a home early Thursday morning.
“I’m glad he’s caught. I’m glad he didn’t get hurt and I’m glad he didn’t hurt anybody else,” Mabe said.
Mabe encountered Diehl on her front porch two weeks ago as he rang the doorbell. Her 7-year-old grandson almost opened the door until he recognized Diehl’s face.
“I had two weeks to think about this and I’ve had a lot on my mind about it. I just don’t know. I don’t know what he would have done,” Mabe said.
Nance, who owns a barbershop in Randolph County, saw the line of deputies racing up and down Old Highway 49 in mid-January as Diehl eluded law enforcement twice.
“I was just glad. I’m glad they got him because I was afraid he was going to hurt somebody. You just don’t know,” Nance said.
Deputies say Diehl would hid in a small closet when people came to the house.
“I feel a little safer now but I’m not completely, 100 percent, feeling safe because I know there’s more out there,” Mabe said.
Mabe and her neighbors are thinking about starting a community watch.
The woman who lived at the home, Kasaundra Eastes, was also arrested Thursday and charged with harboring a fugitive.
“Thank you Randolph County Criminal Apprehension Team, Davidson County Sheriffs Office, US Marshals Service,” Seabolt said.
Diehl has been charged by the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office with felony breaking and entering with intent to terrorize, felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony second-degree kidnapping, felony larceny after breaking and entering, felony breaking or entering a motor vehicle, felony possession of stolen goods, felony larceny of a motor vehicle, felony possession of a firearm by a felon, felony fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, reckless driving to endanger, misdemeanor resisting a public officer, exceeding posted speed, driving while license revoked not impaired revocation and driving left of center.
The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office charged him with felony fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, driving while license revoked not impaired revocation, speeding, reckless driving with wanton disregard, resisting a public officer, failure to stop at a stop sign/flashing red light, misdemeanor possession of stolen goods/property, felony conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony possession of a firearm by a felon, felony assault with a deadly weapon with into to kill/inflict serious injury.
At the time of Diehl’s arrest, Cassandra Harrison was also arrested and charged with harboring a fugitive.
His bond was set at $500,000 secured plus electronic house arrest for the Randolph County charges and $500,000 secured bond on the Davidson County charges.
His first appearance in Randolph County District Court was set for Feb. 5. His first appearance was set for Feb. 9 in Davidson County District Court.
Deputies say the victim ran away after being assaulted by Diehl. While the victim was running Diehl fired a pistol at the victim.
Once the shooter and two others left the scene, the victim was able to call 911.
Deputies were able to find Diehl in the suspect vehicle close to that area, near N.C. 49, and tried to stop him. The driver did not stop and led deputies on a brief chase.
The chase crossed into Randolph County on old N.C. 49 until the driver turned left onto Gopher Woods Road where he crashed in a yard.
The suspect jumped out of the vehicle and ran. Two other people stayed in the car.
One of the people in car was arrested on unrelated outstanding charges.
Deputies say Diehl was seen running away from a barn near Moore Road and may have gone into a river that runs through the area.
Witnesses said that Diehl had a pistol on his belt in a holster.
Around 2:50 p.m. Thursday, a person matching the description of Diehl broke into a home on Jackson Creek Road, attempted to lock a victim in a bedroom and stole a vehicle at gunpoint.
“I was like, ‘What am I going to do? I have my grandson here, and this fugitive is at my door,’” said Tammy Mabe, of Randolph County.
Mabe’s 7-year-old grandson, Liam, almost opened the door for Diehl until he got a good look at his face.
“It was so scary to see his face right there in my door,” Mabe said.
Mabe called the police as Diehl tried to get into a home on Jackson Creek Road. Deputies say he broke in, pointed a gun at the homeowner and stole her vehicle.
That’s what prompted a high-speed chase into the woods in Davidson County.
As a FOX8 crew was walking through the area, we met Michael Potts who was trying to tow the van out of the brush.
Potts told us he’s known Diehl since he was a baby.
“I don’t think he’ll turn himself in. I honestly don’t,” Potts explained.
Potts believes Diehl can survive alone in the woods. He said he’s done it before and will do anything to avoid getting caught.
“He’s done a lot of stealing and stuff like that, and I think he’s done some robberies, but I don’t think he’s ever physically hurt anybody. But things change,” Potts said.
While deputies from Davidson and Randolph County were searching for Diehl in several cities and at old hangouts, people living where he had been spotted said they were worried about him showing up at their homes.
“Hopefully, this guy gets caught and put away to safety,” Mabe said.