Saturday, March 26, 2011

Phoenix police: Man who stole detective's car kills himself

The man who shot at a Phoenix police detective while stealing his car Friday is dead after shooting himself early Saturday, police said.

An off-duty Phoenix vehicle crimes detective had his personal car stolen around 4:30 p.m. Friday at a car wash, said Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos.

The suspect, a male between 25 and 30 years old, got into the driver's seat of the officer's 2009 black Dodge Charger after car wash attendants had finished washing it, Martos said.

The suspect was sitting in the driver's seat of the car with the door open when the detective, who has been with the force for 24 years, tried to pull him out of the car. The suspect pulled out a semi-automatic hand gun while the detective was struggling with him, police said.

The detective let go of the man when he saw the gun, but the suspect fired while they were extremely close to one another.

"We are extremely lucky the detective is still alive," Martos said.

The suspect drove away from the car wash near Bethany Home Road and Seventh Street, he said.

At about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, police spotted the stolen car near Eighth and Colter streets and began chasing it. They later located the abandoned car near 19th Street and Camelback Road, where it appeared the suspect had crashed and fled into a nearby apartment complex.

Soon after, police received a 911 call from a resident who said the suspect had entered his apartment. The caller was able to escape without injury, Martos said.

As police officers were positioning themselves around the unit, they heard a single gunshot. Using a robot to search the apartment, officers found the suspect, who had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Martos said.

Police are investigating and have not released the suspect's name.

It is unclear how the suspect got the keys, but they were left with the car while the attendants were waiting for the detective to pick it up, Martos said.

The car did not have any markings or any police weapons. The detective was unarmed at the time of the robbery and the suspect had no way of knowing that the vehicle belonged to a police detective, he said.

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