by Heather Tomlinson
Police are on the look-out for a man who may have caused an early-morning lockdown situation at the local hospital and who may be connected to a theft.
Robert Beach, age 44, of Jacksboro Street, Ferguson, is wanted for questioning by the Somerset Police Department.
SPD officers responded at 3:15 a.m. Thursday to the South Kentucky RECC storage lot on North Main Street after they received a report of someone in the gated section of the lot.
When SPD Officers Eric Klepper and Joe Criswell arrived, they saw a man trying to steal an RECC bucket truck, according to Lt. Shannon Smith, with SPD.
Smith said the officers were outside the gated lot, and from there they watched as the suspect allegedly drove the bucket truck across the enclosure.
The two officers followed the suspect, later identified as Beach, but the bucket truck was empty when they came upon it on the other side of the lot.
Smith said Beach had loaded several things in the bucket truck before abandoning it.
“He had loaded the bucket truck with a bunch of stuff he was going to steal,” said Smith.
Criswell and K9 Aras tracked Beach a short distance and found his shirt, some personal belongings, and some stolen property that had been discarded.
It was around the same time when SPD Sgt. Roger Estep located a suspicious vehicle across the street from RECC.
A check of the registration of the truck showed it belonged to Beach.
“The red Ford F-150, registered to Robert Beach of Somerset, was found to contain several stolen items that belonged to SKRECC,” stated Smith in the press release.
Several hours later, at around 6:30 a.m. Thursday, an employee at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital called 911 and reported that a man was walking east through the hospital property toward Langdon Street while carrying a shotgun or rifle, according to Smith.
“LCRH went into a voluntary lockdown as a precaution,” stated Smith in the press release. “A nearby school was notified as a precaution even though children were not present at the time.”
Susan Ramsey Wilson, LCRH director of marketing and community relations, said the suspect never targeted anyone at the hospital.
“We just did it as a precaution of course until the police could determine the person was gone,” said Wilson.
Wilson said the entire LCRH campus, including the surgery center and cancer treatment center, went under lockdown for around an hour Thursday morning.
Smith said at least one other person saw the suspect who resembled Beach, and he said SPD was on the scene within two minutes Thursday morning — but no sign of the suspect was found.
The man was described as shirtless and wearing short pants and boots, consistent with the description of Beach.
“We were not able to find him,” said Smith, who noted officers combed the area by foot and air around the hospital for around two hours Thursday.
Smith said there’s a possibility the man, possibly Beach, was picked up or drove away himself in a car.
“We checked all over and then some,” said Smith.
Anyone with information on Beach is asked to call the SPD 24-Hour Crime Tip Line at (606) 676-TIPS, or use the See-Hear-Report text-a-tip program. Send a text to "CRIMES" and include “SOMERSETPD” and the information about the tip.
In either case, callers and texters remain anonymous.