MILLS RIVER, N.C. — Authorities are telling visitors to stay away from a national forest in North Carolina while they search for an armed suspect, saying he escaped by stealing a mountain bike at gunpoint.

An area of the Pisgah National Forest extending between Asheville and the South Carolina border was closed Sunday while officers were seeking 38-year-old Phillip Michael Stroupe II of Weaverville. The Transylvania County Sheriff’s Department says he’s a suspect in a break-in.

Roads and trails south of the Blue Ridge Parkway and east of U.S. Highway 276 were closed to let investigators conduct their search.

Sheriff’s deputies say they were chasing Stroupe’s vehicle Saturday through an area popular with hikers and campers, adding he stole the mountain bike and later pedaled into the woods.

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