By GARY POPP
A man who fled on foot from a Lanesville police officer about 8 a.m. Thursday remains at large, but the search has been terminated.
During the pursuit of Damon Schnellenberger, 24, police stumbled upon more than 300 marijuana plants and discovered a loaded sawed-off shotgun, two active methamphetamine labs and other substances believed to be illegal drugs.
Harrison County Sheriff’s Capt. Brad Shepherd said a Lanesville police officer had been dispatched to the 3300 block of Crandall-Lanesville Road at 7:55 a.m. in reference to two males standing in the roadway. As the responding officer spoke with the men, Schnellenberger and William Berkley, 36, Schnellenberger ran from the officer.
Two Milltown Police Department K9 units, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police assisted in the search for Schnellenberger. During the search, officers discovered the plot of marijuana plants on Berkley’s property at 3341 Crandall-Lanesville Road. Shepherd said a search warrant was obtained to enter Berkley’s home in an attempt to locate Schnellenberger.
While in the home, police found an active methamphetamine lab, more marijuana and a white-powdery substance that Shepherd said is likely methamphetamine or cocaine, but has not yet been tested by authorities. Shepherd said a second warrant was obtained to again enter the home and seize the methamphetamine lab, marijuana and apparent drugs.
During the search in the home and outbuildings, officers found a the sawed-off shotgun and a second active methamphetamine lab.
Shepherd said the manhunt was called off at 5 p.m. and Schnellenberger is now a wanted man. He said the rural “rough terrain” and high temperature made the search difficult for officers.
Shepherd said Berkley has been preliminarily charged with manufacturing methamphetamine with a firearm, a class A felony, and possession of a marijuana — more than 30 grams and maintaining a common nuisance, both class D felonies, and a felonious charge of cultivation of marijuana.
Berkley could face an additional charge if the white-powdery substance tests positive as methamphetamine or cocaine.