ELK CITY, Okla. -- Authorities are asking residents to stay vigilant as they search for seven to eight suspects who led officers on a pursuit that began in Texas.
According to the Beckham County Sheriff's Office, the pursuit began just after midnight Thursday in Wheeler County, Texas and ended southwest of Elk City on I-40.
Beckham County Sheriff Derek Manning said the entire car chase stems from a traffic stop.
"They ended up in a ditch down by the fence and the deputy said when the car came to a stop, doors flew open and somewhere between six and eight people jumped out the vehicle and ran into the field and eventually down into the creek next to the interstate," explained Sheriff Manning. "We found some smaller shoe prints down along the creek this morning just before daybreak, and they could have belonging to either a juvenile male or a female. We couldn't tell for sure."
The main search area includes Merritt Road and about six miles south of I-40.
On Thursday, schools administrators in the area were advised of the situation.
Jeff Daugherty, superintendent of Merritt Public Schools, says the district worked hand in hand with law enforcement to search buildings before it was deemed safe to continue with the rest of the school day.
According to Daugherty, the schools are always on "lockdown" mode.
"We've been doing that for about five years, so all doors are locked throughout the schools, so you have to come to the main office to get buzzed in," said Daugherty.
Sheriff Manning told News 4 the suspects allegedly fled from a 2002 Honda with an Arizona tag, which has since been impounded by authorities.
A small trace of drugs, believed to be meth, were also found.
"There were no weapons in the vehicle. There was no indication of weapons, no ammunition or anything like that. No weapons were seen on the subjects when they ran from the vehicle, they just took off on foot," he said.
As the search continues, the Beckham County Sheriff's Office says residents living south of I-40 between Merritt Road and Washington Avenue should be especially vigilant and report any suspicious activity or unknown people to police.
Wayna Young lives near Washington Avenue and says her daughter learned of the incident early Thursday.
"She texted to tell me that I needed to be careful, because she knew that I worked in the yard," said Young. "Lock your doors, pay attention to who's around."
There is currently no suspect or clothing descriptions available at this time. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Beckham County Sheriff's Office at 580-928-2121.