Elderly man beaten, robbed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2005

AULANDER – A wet and wild chase came to a ‘shocking’ conclusion here Wednesday night.

Nathan Futrell, 27, of Aulander is behind bars in the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail, held under a $300,000 cash bond after he allegedly beat and robbed an elderly man before leading Bertie law enforcement officers on a chase through the woods on a rainy night.

The chase ended when Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer – assisted by Bertie Sheriff’s deputies Kenny Cobb and Stephen White – found Futrell hiding under a fallen tree.

&uot;At first, Mr. Futrell failed to heed our commands when ordered to place his hands behind his back,&uot; Barmer said. &uot;We were unable to handcuff Mr. Futrell, so we had to use another measure in order to take him into custody without injury.&uot;

Barmer used a Taser weapon – a device that fires a non-lethal electrical probe into a person’s body – to subdue Futrell.

&uot;After that, he cooperated with us,&uot; Barmer noted. &uot;We were able to take him into custody without further incident.&uot;

Futrell was charged with four felonies – armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, first degree burglary and assault on a handicapped person as well as one misdemeanor – resist, delay and obstruct (a law enforcement official in the performance of their duties).

The incident began around 9 p.m. on Wednesday when the Bertie Sheriff’s Office received a call from the victim of the crime – Tom Gatling, 71, of Commerce Street in Aulander. Gatling identified the suspect as Futrell, saying he had broken into his home, assaulted him and stole $150 in cash.

Upon his arrival, Barmer said he and the two Bertie deputies were able to ascertain that Futrell had allegedly forced his way into the home and demanded money from Gatling.

&uot;Mr. Gatling told Mr. Futrell he had no money at which time Mr. Futrell pushed Mr. Gatling to the floor,&uot; Barmer reported. &uot;Mr. Gatling was able to get his hands on a glass jar, using it to strike Mr. Futrell in the head. After that occurred, Mr. Futrell took a baseball bat and beat Mr. Gatling before stealing his money.&uot;

Gatling was transported by the Lewiston-Woodville Rescue Squad to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital. He was later taken to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville from where he was released on Thursday.

&uot;He was pretty much bruised and battered from the beating,&uot; Barmer said. &uot;He’ll be quite sore for some time.&uot;

Meanwhile, the lawmen began to hunt for the suspect. They caught a break when a caller reported a subject fitting Futrell’s description near a wooded area across the street from Gatling’s residence.

&uot;We began to search that area very thoroughly,&uot; Barmer said. &uot;I spotted a male subject running from one portion of the woods to another and that’s when the foot chase began. We could hear him running, but the thick brush and the darkness hindered us somewhat.&uot;

Barmer said 30-to-45 minutes elapsed before he found Futrell hiding under the fallen tree.

In the meantime, Barmer said he had summoned the assistance of the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office while a K-9 team was dispatched from Williamston to aid in the search.

&uot;Even though their services were not needed because we found the suspect prior to their arrival, I’d like to thank the Hertford and Martin Sheriff’s Offices for their willingness to help,&uot; Barmer said.

He added, &uot;A special thanks goes out to deputies Cobb and White for their perseverance and dedication to stick it out with me under pretty adverse conditions. I’d also like to thank Lt. (Jeanette) Mathias with the Ahoskie Police Department. She helped out by keeping me updated with information on Mr. Gatling at the hospital.&uot;

Futrell’s first court appearance was Thursday.