Dayton man still on the run after allegedly stealing police cruiser

Dogs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice aided in the search of an escapee in Dayton on Tuesday. Walking alongside the dog and its handler is Dayton Police Officer Tyler Head.

A Dayton man who reportedly evaded police and later stole a police cruiser around 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, is still on the run as of Wednesday morning. His whereabouts are unknown but there is some indication that 54-year-old Clifford Oclair left the vicinity of the search area at the end of N. Winfree St. in Dayton, where he is alleged to have crashed the stolen police cruiser, according to Lt. Shane Burleigh, a spokesperson for Dayton Police Department.

Dayton police officers, assisted by canines and their handlers from the TDCJ prisons in the Dayton area, and members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, combed the wooded area on N. Winfree Tuesday evening until the dogs were too tired to continue. Overnight, law enforcement personnel continued following leads that so far have not yielded an arrest of Oclair.

Prior to Tuesday, Oclair was already a wanted fugitive after he reportedly escaped the custody of the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office two weeks ago.

Clifford Oclair

“We had arrested him in Kenefick at one of the stores for Possession of a Controlled Substance. When we searched his truck, we found five guns, a night scope and ammo that had been stolen from a farmer in the Dayton area two weeks prior to that. We found out about the stolen guns when we ran the numbers and one came back as stolen,” said Pct. 4 Constable Robby Thornton.

Oclair was taken into custody and transported to the County Annex in Dayton. Thornton said one deputy stayed outside with Oclair while another deputy went inside to process the paperwork associated with his arrest.

“The guy told my deputy he was thirsty, so my deputy got a bottle of water and gave him a drink,” Thornton said. “My deputy left the door open and walked around the car. He came back around and the guy was gone.”

With both hands handcuffed behind his back, Oclair reportedly had made his escape.

According to Thornton, Oclair has a home north of Dayton but has been staying in the woods for the last two weeks to avoid capture. The U.S. Marshal’s Office was asked to assist in the search a week ago.

The search for an escapee had multiple agencies responding to Dayton on Tuesday. Pictured left to right are Pct. 4 Constable Robby Thornton, Paul Lowrey with the County Attorney’s Office, Lt. Shane Burleigh with Dayton Police Department and Dayton Police Chief Derek Woods.

On Tuesday, May 31, deputies with the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office spotted Oclair’s vehicle in Dayton and Dayton Police Department officers came to assist in the apprehension. Two Dayton PD officers attempted a traffic stop on SH 321. As they turned around to follow Oclair’s vehicle, he sped off. During the pursuit, he bailed out of his vehicle and fled into a wooded area off SH 321.

The two Dayton police officers set up a perimeter and had exited their vehicles to pursue the suspect on foot, when he reportedly doubled back and took one of their vehicles. A Liberty County sheriffโ€™s deputy, assisting in the search, chased the stolen police cruiser into the wooded area at the end of North Winfree. It was found wrecked in a ditch with no sign of Oclair.

Oclair is described as a white male with graying brown hair. He was wearing blue jeans and a drab green shirt. The suspect is known to authorities as he had outstanding felony warrants.

If anyone sees the suspect, use caution. Do not approach. Instead call 911 or 936-258-7621.

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