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Suspect in kidnapping still at large in western Wisconsin

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The search is still underway for a man believed to have kidnapped a woman at gunpoint in southeastern Wisconsin early Monday, then drove her to the Eau Claire area before she escaped.

Law enforcement officials released a photo of the suspect, 24-year-old Mitchell Owens, who they say is still on the loose and believed to be hiding in a rural area of Eau Claire County, according to FOX 6.

The station reports Owens was recorded on surveillance video forcing a woman at a Wal-Mart store in Mukwonago – about 30 miles southwest of Milwaukee – into a vehicle, then driving away around 3 a.m. Monday. The video appeared to show him with a rifle or shotgun, WEAU reports.

About 9:30 a.m., the victim escaped the vehicle while it was at a convenience store in Eau Claire, the station says, and she is safe in police custody.

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Lt. Daniel Streit of the Mukwonago Police Department said Owens was an acquaintance of the victim and that he targeted her, according to FOX 6.

Owens led law enforcement on a high-speed car chase after leaving the gas station.

Police deployed stop sticks to disable his vehicle and it crashed into a ditch, according to WEAU.

Owens fled on foot into a nearby wooded area and may have fired at least two shots before he disappeared.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram says aircraft, K-9 and SWAT units have been part of the search effort, which is centered around the heavily wooded area in the town of Seymour in rural Eau Claire County. (See the map above)

Police say Owens was wearing a black long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans, and a green baseball cap. He also has facial hair.

Authorities evacuated 16 homes in the area, and are asking others to stay away until the incident is over. Police say they will continue the search throughout the night if they have to.

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