Police say car chase suspect may be alive
by James Phillips
Jun 16, 2012 | 5042 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Thomas Butler
Michael Thomas Butler
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A suspect who jumped into Lewis Smith Lake to elude police early Thursday morning is now believed to have swam across the lake to safety and now continues to elude police on land.

Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe identified the suspect Friday afternoon as 34-year-old Michael Thomas Butler of Morris.

Butler led police on an hour-long chase early Thursday morning throughout several areas of Walker County before stopping his car on Lotawata Drive, which dead ends at Smith Lake. Butler then plunged into the lake. Police had visual contact with Butler for a time but lost sight of him.

Members of the Smith Lake Task Force, the Alabama Marine Police and a Tennessee-based company specializing in unmanned technologies spent most of the day Thursday searching the lake for Butler’s body. Rowe said new information received late Thursday night give police reason to believe Butler made it out of the lake and is alive and well.

Rowe said a resident on the far side of the lake from where Butler entered the water reported seeing him come out of the water. Rowe also said the owner of the vehicle Butler drove during Thursday’s chase reported having a phone conversation with him Thursday.

“We certainly hope these reports are accurate,” Rowe said. 

Thursday’s chase began when a Jasper officer attempted to stop Butler because the car he was driving had a busted tail light. Rowe said Butler does have an outstanding warrant on a drug related charge.

“This person obviously does not want to be taken into custody, so area residents should consider him to be dangerous,” Rowe said.

Butler is a white male, 5-foot-9, 140 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts should contact the Jasper Police Department at 205-221-2121.