74-year-old faces attempted first-degree murder charges for trying to run down police officers

Staff report


RED SPRINGS — A 74-year-old Red Springs man is facing two counts of attempted first-degree murder after ramming his vehicle into multiple law enforcement vehicles and trying to run down police officers.

Lee Vance Leak, of 35 Miller St., was arrested early Sunday morning, according to the Red Springs Police Department. He was jailed in the Robeson County Detention Center under a $300,000 secured bond.

Red Springs Police Department officers responded about 1:52 a.m. Sunday to a call of a suspicious vehicle on the 200 block of West Sunset Drive in Red Springs, according to the RSPD. Once on the scene, Sgt. R. Downing and Officer M. Brown saw a silver 2007 Honda Pilot SUV parked in the middle of the street and a African American male standing beside the SUV urinating in the street.

The officers were able to identify the male as Leak, according to the police department. The officers tried to speak to Leak and he jumped into his SUV. When Leak was ordered to exit the vehicle he sped away.

The officers got back into their patrol vehicles to give chase when they saw that the SUV had stopped in the roadway and been put into reverse, according to the police department. Downing then exited his patrol vehicle to speak with Leak again when Leak backed his SUV into nearby bushes. The sergeant then saw Leak place the SUV into drive, pull out of the bushes and place the SUV back into reverse. Leak then tried to run over Downing, who was standing near Leak’s vehicle, according to the police department.

Downing was able to jump out of the path of the SUV, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, according to the RSPD. The SUV crashed into the front of Officer Brown’s 2020 Ford Explorer patrol vehicle, which was totaled.

The officers then saw Leak take off again, driving through nearby neighbors’ yards, according to the RSPD. Leak drove head-on into Downing’s 2012 Dodge Charger, which was totaled, and then struck Officer M. Brown’s patrol vehicle again as the officer was trying to exit it.

Downing then called for assistance from other Red Springs police units and nearby Robeson County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

“Leak then chased the officers around a residence in his SUV trying to run the officers down. The officers then discharged their service weapons into Leak’s vehicle, which he was not injured,” an RSPD release reads in part.

Responding Red Springs police officers and Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on the scene, according to the RSPD. Leak then tried to flee again and backed into another Red Springs Police Department patrol vehicle.

Deputies gave chase and were able to stop the vehicle nearby only after Leak had backed into a Robeson County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle, causing damage, according to the RSPD. Leak was taken into custody without incident by Red Springs police officers and Sheriff’s Office deputies, and taken to the Red Springs Police Department before being taken to the county Detention Center.

Lt. Christopher McManus said “the investigation is ongoing at this time and more charges are pending.”

“The officers were very lucky, this could have been a tragic incident for everyone, but thankfully their training not only saved their lives but that of the driver,” McManus said.

Chief Brent Adkins said, “I am truly thankful that none of the officers or Mr. Leak were injured during this incident. I want to personally thank Sheriff Burnis Wilkins and his deputies for assisting our officers. I can only hope and pray that these types of incidents do not occur because there is always another peaceful alternative.”