The man, Kylen Padgett Jr., has been hiding in the bin since around 6:30 this morning, at times moving around on beams in the facility and is suspected of being armed, Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith said.
He has been spotted several times and sometime between 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. officers did communicate with him, Smith said. Padgett responded with a remark the sheriff said “was not rational.”
The sheriff’s office cut holes in the outside of the bin to drop cameras in.
The matter, which started around 3:15 this morning at the plant, brought production at the wood pellet manufacturer to a halt. Tractor-trailers carrying logs and wood chips were halted by employees.
Enviva said in a statement it is the company’s “top priority to ensure the safety of our employees and everyone involved. At this time we are coordinating closely with local law enforcement and first responders. The plant is currently shut down and no one is injured.”
The company said in the statement “details are still emerging about the situation and we don’t want to speculate about actions being taken by first responders at the scene, whom we thank for their professionalism and dedication to everyone’s safety.”
Plant Manager Roland Burnett said the matter started when a contract driver came to the plant on routine business.
The man who was with the driver was later identified as Padgett and presumably knew the tractor-trailer driver, who picked him up.
Smith said this evening, however, Padgett demanded a ride and now faces a first-degree kidnapping charge from New Hanover County along with the charges associated with him being a probation absconder. Padgett also has two court dates next month for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia counts.
Padgett has a lengthy criminal record which includes counts related to chop shop activity and drugs.
He had also been featured on the Investigation Discovery show I (Almost) Got Away With It, the Port City Caller reported in 2013.
The TV series highlights that a jury acquitted Padgett of a 2007 attempted murder charge.
The Port City Caller reported then Padgett had already been convicted of 127 criminal charges, including 48 counts of breaking and entering and 46 counts of larceny.
Smith said deputies arrived at Enviva around 3:15 this morning after the truck driver called 911 to report the circumstances.
Employees were made aware of the circumstances. Padgett stayed in the truck until around 6:30 this morning and then fled from the vehicle.
Asked why deputies didn’t try to apprehend him when he bolted from the truck, the sheriff said deputies were operating under the assumption he was armed. “He’s suspected of being armed. We’re treating this as him being armed and dangerous.”
Smith described Padgett as agile and that he has been navigating the bin on beams which are 8 to 10 inches wide.
Smith said officers are taking a cautious approach in trying to apprehend Padgett. “We don’t want him to harm any people.”
Firefighters, EMS and several law enforcement agencies were at the scene throughout the day, including a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office SUV, which left late this evening.
The Roanoke Rapids Public Works Department brought a flexible camera to the scene and the city’s police department brought ballistic shields and two officers, including one of its dogs, Chief Chuck Hasty said. “When we’re requested we provide any assistance needed.”
Burnett said, “It’s a weird situation … We’ve been here five and half years and have never had an incident.”