Two mountain bikers were held up at gunpoint in Pisgah National Forest on forest Road 477 on Saturday, according to reports. The two riders were Aaron Fischer and Chris Swann, hailing from Athens, GA. Check out their full account here:
According to the video above, the riders heard sirens for about 10 minutes as they were climbing up the road, and then they heard a car coming up quickly behind them. According to Fischer, “As soon as he passed me, he slammed on the brakes, he jumped out of the car, he puts a revolver to my chest and says ‘Give me your ‘effing bike.'” Fischer handed his bike over, and then he and Swann both jumped off the road grade, and began running through the forest away from the fugitive.
The police were hot on his tail, less than a minute behind. After getting information from Fischer and Swann, the police continued the pursuit. However, the police were not able to apprehend the suspect.
The police later released photos and a description of the suspect, Phillip Michael Stroupe III (see above). At the time of this writing, the manhunt for Stroupe in Pisgah National Forest is still ongoing. According to an update on the Transylvania Times Facebook Page on Saturday the 22nd,
“Stroupe is on a stolen – black in color – Giant Reign full suspension mountain bike, likely with no helmet.
Law enforcement is searching for Stroupe in the Avery Creek and Yellow Gap area of the forest. Access in to the forest is blocked by law enforcement.
Stroupe is wanted in Buncombe County for alleged kidnapping. He is a white male, age 30 to 40 years old, with tattoos on his neck.”
Stroupe is considered armed and dangerous. As a result, some portions of Pisgah National Forest are currently closed to the public. “Forest closures include the Pisgah Ranger Station and Visitors Center off of US276, the Cradle of Forestry, Looking Glass Falls, the popular Sliding Rock swimming area and the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education at the fish hatchery,” according to an article on BlueRidgeOutdoors.com. “Visitors should also avoid the Yellow Gap Road, Turkey Pen Gap, Trace Ridge, and Wash Creek.”
Over the weekend, the manhunt progressed much more slowly than anticipated, due to inclement weather and the difficult terrain in Pisgah National Forest–as anybody who’s mountain biked in Pisgah can attest to. Based on the most recent video update from Sunday evening, it appears that the suspect is still on mountain bike in the forest.
Here’s the most recent update video in its entirety:
According to an article on WFMY News 2.com published this morning, The Hub bike shop has lost about $15,000 in sales over the past three days that the manhunt has been taking place. “This is huge for us,”Jordan Salman, an employee at The Hub, said. “July is one of the only times we actually make money.”
If you have any information that could aid the police in apprehending Stroupe, please contact the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office directly at 828-884-3168.
“Probably our most eventful bike ride in Pisgah today after 20 years of riding here,” Swann quipped at the end of the interview.