HAZARD — Officers with the Hazard Police Department recently uncovered more information about a Gays Creek man who remains on the run from authorities this week.
James Barger, 25, has been evading arrest for several months while continuing to commit a rash of crimes in the city of Hazard, according to police. Barger has allegedly stolen purses from several people at Food City and Walmart, and has been known to steal purses from shopping carts, grab them from women, and break out car windows, authorities say.
According to Hazard Police Chief Minor Allen, Barger struck again at a local grocery store on Tuesday which led officers on a chase through the woods.
“He hit again today right in the middle of the daytime at Food City,” said Allen. “After that, James (East) and about seven or eight officers went down to Lower Second Creek, Peter’s Fork, and have been up in the mountains there for about three hours.”
While searching the area, police found evidence that Barger has set up a camp there. “We found where he has been camping, and we did recover some of the purses,” said Allen.
Along with finding some of the stolen purses, Allen said they also found evidence of drug trafficking. “He is pretty much just living out in the woods, and we assume it is for drugs,” Chief Allen continued. “We found some photographs up there of them showing themselves with marijuana and some other stuff. Gallon plastic bags of marijuana.”
Barger has apparently been seen driving several different vehicles, none of which are believed to be stolen, but borrowed from family and friends. He has several warrants out for his arrest for both misdemeanor and felony charges.
Barger remains on the run, and authorities say he is still considered armed and dangerous.
Police caution that people should hide belongings in their vehicles, and for women to keep their purses on their shoulders so they cannot be grabbed since this remains his mode of operation. So far he has not committed any vehicle break-ins in residential areas or stolen any purses off people walking down streets. However, police say this could change since the pressure is on him from authorities.
If you see Barger, you are urged to call the Hazard Police Department at (606) 436-2222 or the Kentucky State Police at (606) 435-6069.