A white man accused of killing the wife, son and mother-in-law of a Tampa Bay Rays prospect was shown naked on video running from a Virginia sheriff’s deputy, but authorities were still able to arrest him without the use of a gun.
The man identified as 18-year-old Matthew Bernard by ABC affiliate WSET was ultimately arrested on three counts of first-degree murder.
Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor declined to identify the victims, but ESPN reported they were the family of Blake Bivens, a 24-year-old pitcher for the Montgomery Biscuits, the Class AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“We’re with you, Blake,” the baseball team said in a Twitter message Tuesday.
Bernard can be seen running past a media staging area, chasing a Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s deputy and grabbing a man WSET identified as a church groundskeeper around the neck.
A law enforcement officer chased the bare-backed man in the area of Keeling Drive after macing him and hitting him with a nightstick failed to slow him down.
The man identified as Bernard can be seen in 1-minute-45-second video WSET obtained running through a grassy area into a parking lot and up to the groundskeeper standing next to a pickup truck.
Bernard is seen on video wrestling with the groundskeeper before a law enforcement officer breaks them up by striking the suspect with the nightstick.
The groundskeeper told a reporter he was scared for his life and called on God to help him during the incident.
After that, the video showed the naked man jogging through another grassy area and continuing into nearby woods, when a law enforcement officer nearby released a police dog to chase the man.
The video then cut off.
“The situation in the Keeling area is now under control and the individual that was being searched for has been located by law enforcement,” the Pittsylvania County Public Safety said later in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Authorities had earlier initiated a manhunt for the suspect and warned the public to “exercise caution” if they spotted him.
“He is armed with a rifle and considered very dangerous,” the Pittsylvania County Public Safety said in the Facebook post.
They set up shop in the Keeling area authorities found the slain bodies in, and officials warned the public in the Facebook post:
“If you see this individual do not contact him but call the Pittsylvania County 911 center immediately.”
Eight Pittsylvania County schools were put on a Code Orange lockdown during the search, which ultimately ended in Bernard being apprehended with no visible injuries, NBC affiliate 10 News reported.
Twitter users said if Bernard were a Black man the incident would have ended differently.
“Black guy woulda had AT LEAST 200 rounds in him,” Twitter user Butterscotch Jean-Ralphio said.
Another Twitter user dubbed His Dudeness echoed the sentiment.
“If he was black he would have been shot immediately,” he said. “This is exactly what white privilege looks like.”