UPDATE: Manhunt for fugitive is not over

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EATON RAPIDS, MI (WILX) -- Michigan State Police say they are still looking for the 23-year-old man who is wanted on felony charges.

Michigan State Police continue their search for Joshawa Vergason, considered "armed and dangerous." (Source MSP First District)

You may have seen a NEWS 10 promo stating that he was caught but that is not the case.

Joshawa Vergason is still on the loose and police say he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Vergason left his home on August 7 and has been on the run or in hiding since.

Police say he was last seen near Bunker Highway and South Smith Road, north of Eaton Rapids last week.

RESIDENTS have told NEWS 10 that the police searching the area has put them on edge.

"It's been pretty crazy," said an Eaton Rapids liquor store employee.

With police presence in the air, on the ground and undercover, local businesses in the Eaton Rapids area have been on high alert since police began their search for Vergason.

Michigan State Police still warn the public that he should be considered armed and dangerous and that people in the area should lock their doors.

"It's hard having to explain to my daughter what is going on and telling my niece who wants to ride their bike downtown, that she can't," said the employee. "This is a small community where we should be able to do those things."

The party store employee adds that it's this small community feel that makes the situation harder, knowing that one of their own is a fugitive.

"He's never given me any problems, but he is somebody's son, he's somebody's father and I just don't want to see anything bad happen to him."

Those that know him, believe he is more harm to himself than to the public.

Residents tell News 10 that they want the manhunt to end peacefully.

"This is a small community and I just want him to stop running, do his time, so he can go on with his life."

FAMILY
His father says his son is not a threat to the public even though police say otherwise.

“Now they got a target on his back,” said Richard Vergason.

The fugitive’s father says his son's troubles started back in July when he was arrested and handcuffed to a hospital bed while recovering from a dog bite.

Vergason Sr. says after four days the cuffs were unlocked and his son escaped custody.

“At the hospital the State Troopers told him that he's going to go to prison for 10 years and that scared him to death,” Vergason Sr. said.

Then last week, State Police went to the 23-year-old's Eaton Rapids home where his father says he escaped from a basement window after hours of negotiations with police.

“Task force people that are supposed to be competent, they were supposed to be on their toes,” Vergason Sr. continued.

The father of two is charged with resisting and obstructing officers, aggravated assault, and assault on a K-9.

Police say he's armed and dangerous but his father is telling News 10 he's harmless.

“To let the kid go through a window and now you're saying that he's got multiple weapons, he's got shorts on, no shirt, no shoes,” Vergason Sr. explained.

“He's not armed. He's not dangerous. He's a good father to his children.”

Joshawa's cousin Shelby Vergason told NEWS 10, "The Josh that I know is loving, caring, all of that. I just wish that his actions weren't the way that they are. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that he wouldn't harm anybody."

Family members are concerned about how this manhunt could end.

"I'd rather see you in jail and see your kids than not be able to see you and go and visit you at a plot in the graveyard," said Joshawa's cousin Kyla.

"Do I like what he's doing? No. I think he should turn himself in. It's better if he just comes out clean and turns himself in rather than him being dead," said another cousin Brittany.

Michigan State Police Lt. Thomas Declerq said that Vergason had a gun and they found numerous weapons in the house after he fled on Wednesday.

Eaton County Sheriff's department is assisting MSP in this investigation.

Authorities ask that anyone who sees Vergason call 911 and to not approach him.

For more information, including the vehicles he may be traveling in, click here.

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