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Mental patient who escaped police taken back into custody

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DINWIDDIE, Va. -- Virginia State Police and local law enforcement located a man who escaped custody Monday in the Wilsons community of Dinwiddie County. The man was a mental health patient being transported by the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office to Poplar Springs Hospital in Petersburg for a mental health evaluation.

Police identified the man as 21-year-old Ray Alec Lopez. Lopez is a senior cadet at Virginia Military Institute, police said. When the Willow Street, Pa., native returned to campus Sunday, he recognized he was having problems and sought help.

Ray Alec Lopez

Ray Alec Lopez

Lopez was described as a 6-foot 1-inch tall light complected Hispanic man. He was handcuffed and not wearing shoes.

Monday's search is underway along the 5500 block of Route 460 in Wilsons.

Police search the Dinwiddie woods for a man who escaped custody (PHOTO: Wayne Covil)

Police search the Dinwiddie woods for a man who escaped custody (PHOTO: Wayne Covil)

Jamie Vancleef, owner of Van Cleef Tire & Auto Service on Cox Road in Dinwiddie, said he saw 20 police cars drive past his business following the escape.

"The way they were driving, I thought it was a school shooting," Vancleef said.

Police have not yet said how the handcuffed subject escaped custody, nor if anyone was injured during the escape. This is a developing story.