By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

An ex-convict is at large after leading local law enforcement on a car chase through Stout Grove.

The Del Norte County Sheriff's Office is actively searching for 42-year-old Paul R. Poplin, an ex-con who served time at Pelican Bay, San Quentin and Folsom state prisons.

The chase began early Wednesday morning when law enforcement received word that there was a firearm in Poplin's car, Sheriff's Office Commander Tim Athey said.

andquot;Knowing that he is a felon, he cannot possess a firearm,andquot; Athey said, adding that other people were in the car with Poplin.

When a deputy tried to pull Poplin over, he took off, driving up Elk Valley and Howland Hill Roads and through Stout Grove.

California Highway Patrol set up a spiked strip near covered bridge and blew out the tires on Poplin's Dodge Durango to stop the chase, Athey said.

But the pursuit was not over.

andquot;When they started directing people out of the car, all of the people ran into the brush,andquot; Athey said, noting that this tactic occurs quite often in this area - especially during the dark.

andquot;Being out in the wilderness, it happens quite a bit,andquot; he said. andquot;you don't know if they have guns or what they have.andquot;

Upon searching Poplin's Durango, California Highway Patrol found an air gun that looks like an actual firearm, but Athey said, andquot;That's just what was found in the Durango.andquot;

Poplin has a long history with law enforcement in the area, including arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, battery and obstructing a peace officer, Athey said.

andquot;Normally his behavior is to fight and escape,andquot; Athey said.

For that reason, he said, the Del Norte County Sheriff's Office considers Poplin dangerous and potentially hostile.

Poplin is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. Anyone with any information regarding his whereabouts is encouraged to call 911 or local law enforcement.

Athey said Poplin is currently wanted for evading a peace officer and reckless driving, but, he added, the incident is still under investigation and additional charges are forthcoming.

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