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Oclair finally in custody

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    Clifford Oclair

After eluding local authorities on two separate occasions and a manhunt lasting several weeks, Clifford Oclair, 54, was finally taken into custody Monday, July 11, in an area north of Dayton off State Highway 321.

Authorities with Liberty County Constable Offices Pct. 4 and Pct. 6, Dayton Police Department, Liberty County Sheriff's Office S.R.T. unit, which includes the Pct. 2 constables office, and the U.S. Marshall service were among law enforcement on hand during the arrest.

"Finally, we can get some sleep. It's been a lot of people between the constables that have been helping us and the Dayton P.D. and other law enforcement," said Pct. 4 Deputy Constable Robert Adams, who made the arrest.

While in a briefing Monday morning, a call came in about Oclair's location, at which time the group split into two teams in the area surrounding the Dollar General just north of the overpass on SH 321.

Once on the scene, the Liberty County Fire Marshal’s Office Drone Unit deployed a drone and identified him at that time, as one group flanked him in the direction of Adams and his fellow officers who waited for Oclair.

"It was myself, the Dayton P.D., the Pct. 6 Deputy, and the three Marshalls. We kind of hunkered down in the grass, and sure enough, he comes running like someone was chasing him. As soon as he jumped the gate, we jumped up and arrested him," said Adams.

Oclair began his run from law enforcement this past May when he escaped custody from officers with Pct. 4 after being placed in custody and escaping, before once again escaping from the D.P.D. on a traffic stop some days later. 

The initial incident took place after he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance during a traffic stop in Kenefick. At that time, he was in possession of a large number of weapons, ammunition, and other tactical devices, that were found to be stolen.

In transport to the county jail in Liberty, deputies arrived first at the Dayton Annex on FM 1960. At that time, one of the deputies went inside to fill out paperwork while another deputy stayed with Oclair. He asked for water from the deputy, who gave him the water and left the door open; when the deputy returned from the other side of the vehicle, he had fled the scene.

During the second incident, according to Dayton Police Chief Derek Woods, one of his officers pulled Oclair over on SH 321 when he fled on foot with the officer in pursuit before doubling back and taking off in a police cruiser. He fled in the vehicle before crashing off N. Winfree and running into a wooded area along a creek.

In the past several weeks, a number of leads have been followed and searches conducted in the Dayton area at the known whereabouts of Oclair, with a heavy focus on SH 321. 

“You know you get a tip on this guy; you jump up and get dressed; you don't just wait for the next day to go in,” said Adams.

Over that period, Tavasha Marie Banning, 41, of Dayton, was arrested on a third-degree felony charge of Hindering the Apprehension or Prosecution of a Known Felon. Banning is reportedly Oclair's girlfriend and was taken into custody on a $30,000 bond Monday, June 6.

Taking down Oclair was a joint effort of local authorities and took the work of many departments.

“Moral of the story: When law enforcement officers work together, it will improve the effectiveness, and safety of the officers, boost morale, and get another suspected criminal off the street,” said Sheriff Bobby Rader in a Facebook post.

Oclair has a long history of arrests for numerous assaults, public intoxication, burglary, and other charges and now faces 11 new charges from Pct. 4 and Dayton. 

"It's long overdue," concluded Adams.