Probation violator arrested after falling in storage bin
By LANCE MARTIN
GARYSBURG – A Wilmington man who hid in an industrial storage bin on the grounds of a Northampton County wood pellet manufacturing company is in jail on $326,000 bond after he fell late Monday night.
Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith said 30-year-old Kylen Padgett Jr., a probation absconder with a long list of previous arrests and convictions in New Hanover County, was first taken for treatment for what he described as a non life-threatening injury after falling approximately 10 feet.
Padgett had been moving around on steel beams inside the Enviva plant outside Garysburg since around 6:30 a.m. Monday before falling. Smith said Padgett was taken to the hospital around 11 p.m., treated and then taken to the county jail.
The sheriff said Padgett will be charged locally with resisting arrest. He faces a first-degree kidnapping charge from New Hanover County for forcing a truck driver headed to Enviva to give him a ride.
Smith said the truck driver told law enforcement Padgett reportedly had a gun. A weapon, however, has not been recovered from the Enviva storage facility.
The episode, which began around 3:15 Monday morning when the truck driver arrived at the plant, brought production to a halt.
Smith said he talked with the plant manager Tuesday morning.
“He’s happy because they can go back to work full steam ahead,” Smith stated.
Padgett is expected to be turned over to New Hanover County authorities within the next couple of days, the sheriff said.
Motive behind the episode, other than Padgett being an absconder, is unclear.
Smith said deputies and investigators on scene used caution while dealing with Padgett.
“We didn’t want him to get hurt and we didn’t want officers to get hurt,” the sheriff remarked.
Smith said he was surprised Padgett didn’t fall sooner as he navigated the storage facility on 8 to 10-inch steel beams.
“The way he was moving around, one mistake would have killed him easily,” Smith noted.
Prior to his fall and subsequent arrest, Padgett had hid from officers in the storage bin on the Enviva property. He was spotted several times and sometime between 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. officers did communicate with him, Smith said. Padgett responded with a remark the sheriff said “was not rational.”
The sheriff’s office cut holes in the outside of the bin to drop cameras in.
Meanwhile, production at the wood pellet manufacturer was compromised. Tractor-trailers carrying logs and wood chips were halted by employees.
At that time, Enviva said in a statement it is the company’s “top priority to ensure the safety of our employees and everyone involved. At this time we are coordinating closely with local law enforcement and first responders. The plant is currently shut down and no one is injured.”
Enviva – Northampton Plant Manager Roland Burnett said the matter started when a contract driver came to the plant on routine business.
The man who was with the driver was later identified as Padgett and presumably knew the tractor-trailer driver, who picked him up.
Smith, however, said Padgett demanded a ride. In addition to the first-degree kidnapping charge, he also faces charges of being a probation absconder in New Hanover County. Padgett also has two court dates next month for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia counts.
Smith said deputies arrived at Enviva around 3:15 a.m. on Monday after the truck driver called 911 to report the circumstances.
Employees were made aware of the circumstances. Padgett stayed in the truck until around 6:30 a.m. and then fled from the vehicle.
Asked why deputies didn’t try to apprehend him when he bolted from the truck, the sheriff said deputies were operating under the assumption he was armed.
“He was suspected of being armed. We treated this as him being armed and dangerous,” Smith said.
Smith described Padgett as agile and that he navigated the bin on beams which are 8 to 10 inches wide.
Firefighters, EMS and several law enforcement agencies were at the scene throughout the day, including a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office SUV. The Roanoke Rapids Public Works Department brought a flexible camera to the scene and the city’s police department brought ballistic shields and two officers, including one of its dogs,
Burnett said, “It’s a weird situation … We’ve been here five and half years and have never had an incident.”
Padgett has a lengthy criminal record, which includes counts related to chop shop activity and drugs.
He had also been featured on the Investigation Discovery show I (Almost) Got Away With It, the Port City Caller reported in 2013.
The TV series highlights that a jury acquitted Padgett of a 2007 attempted murder charge.
The Port City Caller reported then Padgett had already been convicted of 127 criminal charges, including 48 counts of breaking and entering and 46 counts of larceny.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s website shows 24 pages containing various charges, many of which are breaking and entering and larceny, lodged against Padgett since 2003. Combined, he has spent nearly five years behind bars.
For more photos from the Monday incident, visit www.rrspin.com.
(Lance Martin is the Editor and Publisher of www.rrspin.com. Permission was received to publish this story and accompanying photos).