Carjacker still not identified
Man killed at end of wild chase had multiple aliases, DPS officer says
KINGMAN Authorities have not been able to come up with a positive identification for the man who was shot and killed east of Kingman early Thursday morning after leading Department of Public Safety officers on a 115-mile chase that allegedly included four carjackings.
DPS Public Information Officer Frank Valenzuela said today that the man went by multiple names and aliases, and authorities are trying to determine his real name before attempting to notify his next of kin.
An autopsy that took place this morning will include fingerprints that will lead to a positive ID, Valenzuela said.
The suspect apparently began his flight in Phoenix, where the police are investigating a carjacking that occurred Wednesday. That suspect took a car at gunpoint, shooting and injuring the driver, who remains in stable condition in a Phoenix hospital.
The carjacker's description matches the man who led DPS and Mohave County Sheriff's deputies on a wild chase that stretched from Hoover Dam to just south of the junction of Interstate 40 and U.S. Route.
Phoenix Police Detective Tony Morales said a tall Hispanic male in his early 20s stole a vehicle in Phoenix about 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Valenzuela said witnesses to the Phoenix carjack-shooting said a young Hispanic woman appeared to be trailing the carjacker from the scene of the crime in a separate vehicle.
Valenzuela said the stolen vehicle evaded the security checkpoint nine miles south of Hoover Dam five hours later. The vehicle was not heading south from Las Vegas as earlier thought, he said.
He said the vehicle was heading northbound toward the checkpoint at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, then crossed and continued north against traffic in the southbound lanes, past the checkpoint.
Valenzuela said the suspect turned around in the southbound lane at the dam, where security officers deployed barriers to stop the vehicle. DPS and the Mohave County Sheriff's officers became involved in a high-speed chase after Hoover Dam police alerted them.
Valenzuela said the suspect fled south on Route 93 for about 65 miles. A DPS officer pulled a patrol car in front of the suspect's vehicle and stopped it near the port of entry a few miles west of Kingman. He said the driver left the vehicle holding a gun to the head of a female passenger, who has been identified as Amerika Gonzales, 24, of Phoenix. Authorities still are unsure if Gonzales was a hostage or an accomplice in the crime spree.
Valenzuela said a DPS officer caught in a crossfire situation moved away from his patrol car, and the suspect and the woman left in the patrol car.
"In a hostage situation, we would just tell the guy to take the car," Valenzuela said. "We don't want to risk the hostage getting hurt. Our use of lethal force is pretty standardized. With an apparent hostage, the guy was given quite a bit of latitude."
Officers shot at and flattened three tires. He said the vehicle became disabled at the Woody's convenience store on the northwest edge of Kingman.
Valenzuela said the man and woman left the patrol unit in the parking lot and entered the convenience store, where the suspect demanded a Korean national tourist's rental car keys at gunpoint.
Valenzuela said KPD used road spikes and deflated at least one tire on the newly stolen car about two miles from the convenience store. The suspect then crossed the traffic lane and stopped "nose-to-nose" with another vehicle. He forced the driver out at gunpoint and drove away with the woman onto I-40.
More tire spikes were used to flatten the vehicle's tires just east of the Highway 93 junction, disabling that car about 20 miles outside Kingman.
Valenzuela said a DPS officer rammed the rear of the fleeing car, then rammed it a second time in the left rear side, disabling the car.
It came to a stop on 93 two miles south of the junction, where the suspect left the vehicle, brandishing and possibly firing a shotgun he had taken from the stolen DPS patrol car. Officers opened fire, striking him numerous times at about 12:37 a.m. Thursday. Valenzuela said the woman was not in the line of fire, but she may have been the one who disengaged the shotgun from its locked rack inside the patrol car.
He said the male suspect was somewhat incapacitated after being wounded by officers' gunfire, but continued to resist arrest when officers tried to take him into custody. A KPD officer subdued him with a taser.
Valenzuela said the man was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at Kingman Regional Medical Center. The woman also was taken to KRMC after complaining of having trouble breathing.