A suspected car thief fleeing Jackson police ran around a news conference being held by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. on Wednesday afternoon.
Johnson, city staff and members of the media had gathered in the parking lot of Tennis Center South on McDowell Road about 2 p.m. when a bloodied man ran through the lot.
Witnesses said the man scaled a fence that surrounds the nearby gas station, cutting himself on its barbed-wire topping before walking through some houses beyond the tennis park.
Johnson continued with the news conference, announcing the near completion of five years of work and more than $600,000 in improvements to the 14-court facility.
Crime in Jackson was a hot topic in the Democratic primary election. Johnson lost to Frank Melton in the May 3 election, and Police Chief Robert Moore announced his resignation the same night.
Jackson police spokesman Robert Graham said Wednesday night the car thief hadn’t been caught. He said police didn’t have a suspect and that officers described him as a juvenile male.
Police spotted the pickup at Quick Stop at McDowell Road and Oak Forest Drive.
Later, Shane Byrd, owner of the vehicle, said it was taken early Wednesday from a gas station on Watkins Drive.
“I had pumped my gas and decided to go inside for a drink,” said Byrd, an electrician from Brandon. “I normally do get my keys out, but I had paid at the pump and it was a split-second decision to get a drink.”
He said he was surprised the police were able to find his red 1997 Chevrolet so quickly and that a leaky left front tire might have helped. “It’s been going flat for a few days and I kept putting air in it,” he said. “Whoever stole it just ran it until it went out.”