Suspect Apprehended in Connection with Missing Florida Priest
04/14/2016 AT 01:55 PM EDT
On Wednesday, Steven James Murray, 28, was detained in Aiken, South Carolina, while allegedly driving the car belonging to Rev. Rene Robert, according to a statement from the St. Johns Sheriff's Office in Florida.
According to the release, authorities pulled over the 2012 Toyota Corolla Murray was driving. But as police approached the vehicle on foot, Murray allegedly pressed down on the gas pedal, speeding off from the scene.
Police say Murray didn't make it far, crashing into a tree before allegedly fleeing on foot. Police dogs and helicopters helped track Murray down, and he has since been charged with fleeing and attempting to elude.
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Authorities in South Carolina are searching the surrounding area for any sign of the missing Roman Catholic priest, the statement says. Robert is a senior priest for the St. Augustine Diocese, online records show.
A statement from Sheriff David Shoar claims detectives from the St. Johns Sheriff's Office are on their way to Aiken to interview Murray.
"I realize these are difficult times for all of us who know Father Rene through his many years of dedicated service in our community," Shoar writes. "I want to reassure you that from the moment we became aware of Father Rene dropping out of contact, we at the Sheriff's Office have been working literally non-stop and will continue to do so until we achieve some form of closure."
Shoar adds: "We are at a very delicate phase of our investigation and we must be very diligent and cautious to ensure a proper prosecution in the event that one is needed in the future. Probably the best course of action for you now is to support each other, support our priests and sisters, pray for our law enforcement officers and most importantly, pray for our friend, Father Rene."