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Improper car tag leads to chase and arrest of fugitive

An improper car tag resulted in a fugitive from Florida being arrested and charged with felony eluding Wednesday after a chase involving Warren County sheriff’s deputies and Vicksburg police.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said Johnathan Nicholas Blank was being held in the Warren County Jail in lieu of a $75,000 bond after an initial appearance in Justice Court. Pace said Blank said he was staying in the Vicksburg area but gave no address.

Pace said the state of Florida and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office each have placed a hold on Blank, who is wanted by Okaloosa County, Fla., authorities on multiple charges, including drug charges and tampering with evidence. He is charged in Hinds County for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Pace said a syringe loaded with an unknown substance was found during a search of the car after Blank’s arrest and was sent to the Mississippi State Crime Lab for analysis.

The events leading to his arrest began after 5 p.m. Wednesday on Indiana Avenue when Pace saw a BMW SUV with an improper car tag.

After a records check on the tag revealed there was no car registered with that tag number, Pace attempted to stop the car to check the vehicle identification number.

Blank, however, refused to stop, starting a chase that went westbound on Interstate 20 to Washington Street, then Halls Ferry Road to North Frontage Road and ending on Old Highway 27 where he was stopped by road construction and fled on foot. He was later captured in a wooded area by Vicksburg police officers Jeff Merritt and Donnie Heggins and his K-9 partner Kilo.

Blank was turned over to deputies who took him to Merit Health River Region, where he was treated for scrapes and released. He was then taken to the county jail.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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