By Paul Rioux, St. Tammany bureau
An Alabama murder suspect fled a traffic stop in Mississippi on Monday, leading two dozen law enforcement officers on a 50-mile chase into St. Tammany Parish where he fatally shot himself moments before his vehicle crashed on Interstate 10 near Slidell, authorities said.
Edward Storer, 26, of Theodore, Ala., was pronounced dead at NorthShore Regional Medical Center in Slidell shortly after the chase ended at 11:30 a.m.
Storer apparently shot himself in the head when officers closed in as he was driving east on I-10 north of Slidell, said Capt. George Bonnett of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office.
Storer's sport-utility vehicle veered onto the median and slammed into a guardrail, traveling about 150 feet before coming to rest near the Military Road overpass.
Authorities later learned that Storer was wanted in a murder in Alabama, said Bonnett, who did not have details about the case.
A Mississippi sheriff's deputy stopped the white 2006 Hyundai Tucson for a traffic violation on I-10 West in Harrison County.
The driver pulled over but sped away when the deputy approached the vehicle. The deputy radioed for backup as he pursued the Hyundai more than 30 miles to the Louisiana border, authorities said.
Louisiana State Police were in position to place spike strips across the highway near the state line, but traffic was too heavy, said Trooper Louis Calato, a spokesman for Troop L based near Mandeville.
The vehicle, which has a New York license plate, traveled about six miles into St. Tammany Parish, then exited onto northbound Interstate 59.
The suspect made a U-turn at a contraflow crossover and headed south on I-59. The SUV then exited onto I-10 East and was headed back toward Mississippi when it crashed, Calato said.
Bonnett said detectives believe Storer shot himself as the vehicle was speeding down the highway.
The front of the Hyundai had moderate damage because the guardrail absorbed much of the impact, leading authorities to believe Storer's injuries from the crash would not have been fatal. The wound to his head was not determined to have been caused by a gunshot until he reached the hospital, police said.
An autopsy was scheduled for this morning, said Mark Lombard, chief investigator for the St. Tammany Parish coroner's office.
Storer's relatives could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
A gun was found inside the Hyundai, and authorities plan to conduct ballistic tests to determine whether it was the weapon used in the apparent suicide, Bonnett said.
He said there were no reports of law enforcement officers firing at the fleeing vehicle.
The chase involved about two dozen officers from four agencies, including Louisiana State Police and sheriff's offices in Harrison County, Hancock County and St. Tammany Parish.
Copyright 2006 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company
Ala. murder suspect leads police chase, kills self before crash