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Hawaii County police close highway in search for car theft suspect

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Hawaii County police shut down a section of the Old Stainback Highway Thursday morning while searching for a car theft suspect.

Police tried to stop a suspicious pickup truck — a black Toyota Tacoma reported stolen in Hilo in July — just after midnight on Highway 11 in Panaewa.

When officers found the truck in an unimproved section of the highway in the Panaewa Rainforest, the driver tried to flee again, police said.

The truck got stuck in the brush, so the driver fled on foot, police said.

Police heard gunshots from the forest, where the suspect had fled to, police said.

Officers secured the area and resumed the search in the forest during daylight hours.

Police Special Response Team and detectives also assisted.

The highway was reopened at 1 p.m., but the suspect remains on the loose and police are still investigating.

Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect or his location is asked to call police at 935-3311. Anonymous calls may be made to CrimeStoppers at 961-8300 or 329-8181.

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