Police fight past false leads to capture escapee

After two weeks of searching the area and scouring social media, police have arrested a man who escaped from an Edinburgh officer.

Police were overwhelmed with calls and tips about text messages, phone calls and social media posts and even found a Facebook page created to encourage Dustin A. Evans, 26, of Franklin, to keep trying to elude police.

Evans’ family and friends had spent the past few weeks imagining Evans becoming critically injured or killed in a pursuit, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said. They wanted him captured before either he or someone else died.

“Substance abuse played a major role in his behavior. And now, he might get the help he needs,” Myers said.

Evans surrendered peacefully Monday evening during a traffic stop on Southeastern Avenue in Indianapolis, said Lt. Greg Duke, one of two lead investigators involved in the search for Evans, who had been missing since Nov. 17.

The search for the former Columbus resident began after Evans kicked open the door of an Edinburgh police car in Columbus, ran between houses and managed to stay hidden in the darkness, Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann said.

About a week later, Evans was spotted at a Hope convenience store, led an officer on a high-speed chase, abandoned his car at the end of a dead-end street and managed to stay hidden while officers searched for him.

An advisory described Evans as armed and dangerous, and the U.S. Marshals Service, a federal fugitive task force, the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team and Columbus Police Department were all involved in the search to find him.

When Duke expressed his concern about Evans’ safety to family and friends, he received a tip that Evans might be with an Indianapolis man whom he had once been in jail with, Myers said.

“They beat the bushes, got the trust of family and friends, and showed a genuine empathy,” Myers said. “Our goal was to protect the suspect, too.”

Surveillance teams were staked out at a number of Marion County locations, Duke said. Evans was spotted at 6:30 p.m. Monday getting into a car in a northeast Indianapolis neighborhood, police said. Federal officers followed the vehicle, stopped it and arrested Evans, Duke said.

The investigation into Evans’ Nov. 17 escape from police in Columbus soon will be concluded, Mann said.

Evans complained he was getting sick, and Edinburgh Police Officer Rana Bostock opened the door and allowed Evans to lean outside. When Bostock shut the door, she thought it was secured until Evans kicked it open and ran, Mann said.

Bostock’s initial radio dispatches were received only by dispatchers with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, who were unfamiliar with Columbus and unable to provide an exact location to city police, Mann said.

“There were no violations of protocol,” Mann said. “(Bostock) was in an unfamiliar town in the dark, with no backup and no previous experience in this type of situation. She responded humanely and took the actions she felt were appropriate.”

Mann expects the investigation will result in changes in both radio and operational procedures, as well as additional training for officers, he said.

Evans is being held at the Bartholomew County Jail without bond. He’s also wanted on warrants from Johnson and Scott counties, as well as Bartholomew.

Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.