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Sex trafficking suspect arrested following ‘tactical situation’

Authorities lead Evan Anthony Cole, 29, out of the Travelodge on Bypass Road in Williamsburg around 5 p.m. Thursday, July 11, 2019. (WYDaily/Courtesy of YPSO)
Authorities lead Evan Anthony Cole, 29, out of the Travelodge on Bypass Road in Williamsburg around 5 p.m. Thursday, July 11, 2019. (WYDaily/Courtesy of YPSO)

Update 5:40 p.m. Thursday:

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office has confirmed Evan Anthony Cole, a man wanted on sex trafficking charges in Williamsburg, was the subject in a “tactical situation” at the Travelodge Thursday afternoon.

Cole, 29, was taken into custody around 5 p.m. after a three-hour lockdown at the motel, at 120 Bypass Road near the Williamsburg line.

The tactical situation was prompted after motel maintenance workers heard noises coming from a room they believed was vacant.

When they entered the room, Cole allegedly pointed a gun at them and ordered them to get on the ground. He then left the room and barricaded himself in another motel room, the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office Crisis Negotiation Team began communicating with Cole, who surrendered to deputies around 5 p.m. without further incident.

Evan Anthony Cole, 29 (WYDaily/Courtesy of WPD)
Evan Anthony Cole, 29 (WYDaily/Courtesy of WPD)

Cole was wanted by Williamsburg police on two felony counts of sex trafficking, two felony counts of abduction, two felony counts of robbery, one felony count of strangulation, and two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery.

Williamsburg Police asked for the public’s help in finding Cole on July 5, after responding to a hotel in the 300 block of York Street for a “suspicious incident.”

Two women told police they were allegedly abducted and forced into prostitution by Cole. The women also alleged Cole choked, assaulted and robbed them.

After Thursday’s incident, the sheriff’s office is seeking more charges against Cole, including two counts of abduction, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of brandishing a firearm, authorities said.

Update 5 p.m. Thursday: 

Capt. Dennis Ivey with the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office confirmed there is a person in custody in relation to the tactical situation in the 100 block of Bypass Road.

The situation was centered around the Travelodge Inn & Suites motel next to Cracker Barrel, authorities said.

Ivey said some people in the area were told to evacuate, while others were told to shelter in place. 

Williamsburg Police and emergency services, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, York-Poquoson emergency services, Virginia State Police and James City County Police were all on scene as of 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

Travelodge General Manager Judith Steller said the hotel had been on lockdown for about three hours before the suspect was apprehended.

She said employees at the Travelodge did not have much information, but saw police at both the motel and the adjacent parking lot for Cracker Barrel during the lockdown.

She said the suspect in the tactical situation had been “squatting” in one of the Travelodge’s unoccupied rooms at the back of the motel.

Steller added one of her employees saw “something in the back” and alerted police, prompting the law enforcement response.

Around 5:30 p.m., guests at the Travelodge were seen outside their rooms and in the parking lot of the motel.

Police also still lingered in the Cracker Barrel lot.

A person was apprehended by authorities Thursday afternoon at the Travelodge in Williamsburg after a three-hour-long "tactical situation." Law enforcement occupied the Cracker Barrel parking lot adjacent to the motel. (WYDaily/Julia Marsigliano)
A person was apprehended by authorities Thursday afternoon at the Travelodge in Williamsburg after a three-hour-long “tactical situation.” Law enforcement occupied the Cracker Barrel parking lot adjacent to the motel. (WYDaily/Julia Marsigliano)

Original story:

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is currently working a “tactical situation” in the 100 block of Bypass Road near the Williamsburg-York County line, the department said in a Facebook post.

Authorities are asking the public to avoid the area until further notice. The area is near the intersection of Bypass and Richmond Road, where there are several hotels, Cracker Barrel, Hooters and other stores.

The sheriff’s office said it will not release any other information “at this time” when it posted the status, which was just after 4 p.m.

Public information officers for both Williamsburg Police and the sheriff’s office were not immediately available by phone after the status was posted on Facebook alerting the public about the incident.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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