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Hours-long manhunt on Cat Island nets three of four burglary suspects

Deputies with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office search the area around the Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island Thursday morning. Deputies cordoned off the island about 10 a.m. today and a canine tracking team is looking for the remaining suspect in an early morning burglary at the restaurant in the Sanctuary at Cat Island clubhouse.
Deputies with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office search the area around the Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island Thursday morning. Deputies cordoned off the island about 10 a.m. today and a canine tracking team is looking for the remaining suspect in an early morning burglary at the restaurant in the Sanctuary at Cat Island clubhouse.

An eight-hour manhunt on Cat Island netted three of four suspects accused of breaking into the Cat Island Cafe at Sanctuary Golf Club early Thursday.

A Beaufort County sheriff's deputy patrolling the area near the restaurant at about 3 a.m. noticed several broken windows at the business, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. As the deputy searched the building, four men inside ran from the restaurant.

Other deputies responding to the break-in found a car nearby that appeared to have been left by the men. During the search, authorities urged residents to stay in their homes, and they stopped all cars coming on and off the island.

James Ralph Elam III, 19, of Tennessee and Jose Benjamin Ruelas, 18, of Lady's Island were arrested after deputies spotted them trying to flee on Island Causeway, the release said. Chad Dennis Burnett, 29, of Lady's Island was later captured by the sheriff's K-9 Tracking Team, according to the release.

Investigators were still looking for Cole James Jackson, 16, of Lady's Island as of Thursday afternoon, the release said.

Nothing was reported stolen from the restaurant, which had $1,000 in property damage, according to a sheriff's report.

All three men were charged with second-degree burglary and were in the county Detention Center on Thursday awaiting a bond hearing, according to the jail log. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The four might also be suspects in other area burglaries, according to the release. Sheriff P.J. Tanner would not say if they were involved in recent break-ins at the Lady's Island Country Club and Steamers Oyster and Steakhouse.

"It's too early to verify that," Tanner said. "The investigators are still working to piece everything together."

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