Missouri Highway Patrol troopers were at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Monday as part of their investigation into the fatal police shooting last Friday of an Illinois man who led officers on a high-speed chase in two counties.
The troopers interviewed county deputies involved in the pursuit — which started near Stanton — and were given copies of county patrol car dashcam videos, Sheriff Gary Toelke said.
The suspect, Jose H. Garcia, 49, of Des Plaines, Ill., died from multiple gunshot wounds after he allegedly waved a pistol at officers who had disabled his car in a Eureka subdivision. Garcia, according to reports, was wanted by Illinois police on multiple warrants, including drug trafficking.
County deputies got involved in the pursuit, which began shortly before 12:30 p.m., after the highway patrol asked for assistance in stopping the vehicle.
The chase continued eastbound on Interstate 44 from Stanton and reached speeds of up to 110 mph.
St. Clair Police Chief Bill Hammack said that he and a couple of his officers took part in the chase for a short period of time. He said he heard a radio call stating that Garcia had exited I-44 at the St. Clair 239-mile marker exit. Garcia traveled east on the North Service Road and got back onto the interstate at exit 240.
St. Clair officers tried to locate Garcia but did not get to the scene in time before he returned to I-44, and they assisted in the chase until Pacific, Hammack said. The chief said officers had road spikes strips ready to use.
At Pacific, police there put down spike strips but Garcia managed to avoid them. As traffic slowed in that area, Sgt. Tom Leasor attempted to pass and get in front of the suspect’s car. Leasor said he backed off when he saw the man point a pistol at him.
When the chase reached the Eureka area, Franklin County deputies let the patrol and St. Louis County police take over but the deputies continued on at the back in case they were needed, Toelke said.
“Actually, we ended up in the middle of things,” Toelke said, explaining that the suspect drove into subdivisions and backtracked through yards when he reached cul-de-sac and dead end streets.
When police finally disabled Garcia’s car with spike strips, “he was three or four cars in front of my car,” Toelke remarked.
Police officers had the suspect surrounded when he jumped out of the car waving the gun. That’s when police opened fire, Toelke said.
Deputies Did Not Fire
The sheriff said he confirmed that none of his deputies fired shots at the suspect.
The suspect was shot and taken to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries shortly before 1:30 p.m.