Teen Nabbed After Midnight High Speed Chase

New K-9 officer locates suspect

A teenager, who said he was “just playing hide and seek,” took a Campbell University Division deputy on a high speed chase early Sunday morning.

The chase ended when deputies say he crashed his car and hid behind a nearby air-conditioning unit. The newest member of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit sniffed him out.

Around 4 a.m., a deputy observing traffic on U.S. Highway 421, spotted a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, according to HCSO Maj. Aaron Meredith.

Julian Tovar Barriga, 18, of Coats ignored a deputy’s lights and siren, leading the officer on a chase that at one point exceeded 100 mph, according to Meredith.

Barriga traveled through the city limits of Erwin on U.S. 421 back into the county on Red Hill Church Road.

When the vehicle crossed the Ashe Avenue and 421 intersection, Barriga lost control of the car, left the roadway and flipped several times, according to Meredith.

Barriga immediately fled the scene on foot, prompting deputies to call in Gunner — the newest member of the HCSO K-9 unit. After getting a scent sample from the steering wheel of the wrecked car, Gunner immediately picked up his trail, Meredith said.

In a matter of a few minutes, Barriga was located hiding behind an AC unit of a home in the 1400 block of Red Hill Church Road. Meredith said the victim was wet and barefoot when he was taken into custody.

“At one point he told the deputy he was just playing hide and seek,” Meredith said. “Gunner picked up his scent and almost immediately he followed the scent to the house where the suspect was laying down behind the air conditioning unit.”

Initial reports from witnesses indicated a second person was in the vehicle, but deputies were unable to locate anyone else associated with the chase, Meredith said.

Barriga faces multiple charges as a result of the chase. He was charged with one count each of felony fleeing to elude with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, failure to heed lights and sirens, failure of duty to stop in the event of a crash, resisting a public official and driving left of center.

He was booked into the Harnett County Detention Center where he remains under a $100,000 secured bond.

-Dunn Daily Record