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March 22, 2007
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Tex. high-speed chase ends with dead driver

Man's companion tells police he shot himself in the head
 
By Aprill Brandon
Victoria Advocate, Texas 
 

A Central Texas man died from a gunshot wound to the head and his companion, a 28-year-old woman, is in custody in Jackson County after a high-speed chase from Victoria to just outside of Edna during the noon hour Tuesday.

Victoria Police Department Lt. Robert Noble said the pair, from the Temple area, were under surveillance at a hotel in Victoria stemming from the recovery of items from a local pawn shop that had been stolen in two daylight burglaries Monday in the Tanglewood subdivision.

At about noon, the 29-year-old man and the woman started putting things, including a rifle, into a vehicle. When officers tried to stop them at Rio Grande and Laurent streets, the driver, who was wanted on felony warrants, refused to stop, heading north on U.S. Highway 59 at speeds up to 95 mph.

Spike strips were put on U.S. 59 at the Telferner exit, which took out the suspects' right front tire but didn't stop the vehicle. Another spike strip was put out south of the Lavaca River Bridge, which took out the vehicle's right back tire. The vehicle finally came to a stop just past the Loop 521 exit to Edna, at which time the woman jumped out of the car and told officers the driver had shot himself.

Officers found the man in the driver's seat with a rifle nearby. He was still showing signs of life, Noble said. A medical helicopter flew him to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Noble said, due to the ongoing investigation, the pair's names have not been released and will be released through the public information office possibly today.

Noble also said charges have not been filed because they are continuing to gather evidence.

The Victoria Police Department's pursuit policy depends on the severity of the crime, Noble said. Misdemeanors and lesser crimes are more limited in scope, while with a more serious offense officers will do all they can to ensure that everyone is safe. When it comes to stopping a high-speed car chase, Nobles, said it is up to the officer in charge of the chase.

"The officer in charge will be the one to make the call to terminate the chase," he said. "When a chase crosses county lines, we'll continue with the pursuit. It is our responsibility to see the pursuit to the end or to terminate the pursuit."

T.C. Baker is a staff photographer and Aprill Brandon is a reporter for the Advocate.

Copyright 2007 Victoria Advocate

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