A national search for an armed and dangerous fugitive has focused on South Carolina, after the wanted man was spotted in the Charleston area Tuesday, according to the FBI office in Columbia.
At about 11 p.m., Michael Burham was seen near Broomstraw Hill Road in Awendaw, the FBI said Wednesday in a news release. That’s by the Atlantic coast, about 20 miles from Charleston.
On Sunday, the North Charleston Police Department said it was one of multiple law enforcement agencies working with the FBI in the manhunt for Burham.
Police said they became involved when contacted about a kidnapping. Officers responded to the 7100 block of Rivers Avenue where they met “two victims” who were kidnapped from their home in Pennsylvania and driven to North Charleston by Burham, according to police.
Further information on the victims and their conditions was not available. There was no word how they separated themselves from Burham.
In addition to the kidnapping, Burham is wanted in New York on a rape charge, and is also being investigated for his involvement in a homicide, North Charleston police said.
The 34-year-old Burham is from western New York and is considered a person of interest in the May 11 death of a woman whose body was found in the street, The Buffalo News reported.
The Berkeley County sheriff said his officers had an encounter with Burham earlier Tuesday.
After receiving a 911 call from the Halfway Creek Road area of Huger about a suspicious man, deputies were able to track him down, the sheriff’s office said. That’s about 11 miles from Awendaw.
The man gave deputies a false name and then ran off, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies chased the man, but he was able to get away, according to the sheriff’s office. During the chase, the man dropped a bag and inside were articles that confirmed Burham’s identity, the sheriff’s office said.
“They were asking questions. He was being real evasive, and at that point, they determined that he actually was the suspect that all the law enforcement agencies in the Lowcountry are looking for,” Sheriff Duane Lewis told WMBF. “We had a brief foot pursuit with him in the woods here at the Francis Marion National Forest. At one point, we did deploy the Taser. He did escape from the immediate area.”
The FBI said they currently believe Burham might be hitchhiking, or using a beach cruiser bicycle for transportation.
Law enforcement described Burham as a 5-foot-9, 150-pound man with brown eyes and dark brown hair and facial hair. He was last seen wearing blue shorts and a gray shirt, according to the FBI.
Burham is considered armed and dangerous and members of the public should not approach him, the FBI, police and sheriff’s office said.
If Burham is spotted, call 911, 1-800-CALL-FBI, or submit an online tip to tips.fbi.gov.
The search, on the ground and in the air, has involved members of the FBI; Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office; North Charleston Police Department; South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, US Marshals; S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; Charleston County Sheriff’s Office; S.C. Department of Natural Resources; Summerville Police Department; City of Charleston Police Department and Mount Pleasant Police Department.