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High-speed chase ends in gunfire
by Gary Kent
Apr 10, 2014 | 278 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sgt. Chris Bernal of the Beeville Police Department, in the foreground, makes a phone call at the scene where a 17-year-old Beeville man was stopped after a high-speed chase through south Bee County Monday morning. In the background, a BPD investigator rides up in the tower of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department’s Tower 1 truck for some aerial photos of the scene. Vehicles involved in the incident hit speeds of more than 110 miles per hour during the 30-minute pursuit. The suspect, Ryan Longoria, was stopped shortly after the back tires on the stolen pickup were shot out as he sped along at more than 100 mph going north in the southbound lane on U.S. Highway 181 north of Skidmore.

Gary Kent photo
Sgt. Chris Bernal of the Beeville Police Department, in the foreground, makes a phone call at the scene where a 17-year-old Beeville man was stopped after a high-speed chase through south Bee County Monday morning. In the background, a BPD investigator rides up in the tower of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department’s Tower 1 truck for some aerial photos of the scene. Vehicles involved in the incident hit speeds of more than 110 miles per hour during the 30-minute pursuit. The suspect, Ryan Longoria, was stopped shortly after the back tires on the stolen pickup were shot out as he sped along at more than 100 mph going north in the southbound lane on U.S. Highway 181 north of Skidmore. Gary Kent photo
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BEEVILLE — What started out as a routine investigation into a possible string of burglaries in Beeville Monday morning ended in gunfire on U.S. Highway 181 after a vehicle chase that topped speeds of well more than 100 mph.

The incident resulted in the arrest of 17-year-old Ryan Longoria on multiple felony charges.

Beeville Police Department investigators confirmed that Longoria is the younger brother of Richard Longoria, who has been in custody since last summer on a murder charge for shooting another man to death with a .22-caliber rifle at Kohler Park.

Police Chief Joe Treviño said officers were looking into three home burglaries at around 9 a.m. Monday when they heard a report of a stolen pickup truck.

Officers believed the truck theft could have been related to one of the burglaries and they started looking for the vehicle.

Only minutes later Detective Lt. Eddie Garcia spotted the white Dodge company pickup at the intersection of U.S. Highway 181 and FM 351 and radioed to other officers.

“I’ve got the vehicle,” Garcia said over the police department radio and other police vehicles headed in that direction.

But when Sgt. Chris Bernal pulled in behind the truck and turned on the emergency lights on his marked cruiser, Longoria did not stop. Instead, he sped out to Highway 181 and headed south.

The chase that followed took police to FM 888 to the River Oaks Subdivision and then doubled back toward Beeville. Eventually, the chase was joined by deputies with the Bee County Sheriff’s Office and Highway Patrol troopers.

Longoria raced toward Skidmore on U.S. 181 at speeds of 110 mph and more as other officers joined the chase.

When Longoria reached Skidmore, he led the line of police vehicles around a neighborhood in that community before heading back onto U.S. 181. But that time the suspect ended up driving north in the southbound lanes, racing at more than 100 mph toward Beeville.

Although a number of different officers from various departments involved in the chase had tried to set up spike strips to deflate the pickup’s tires, Longoria changed directions so much no one could get into position.

Not long into that part of the chase, at about 10:05 a.m., BPD Lt. Ken Jefferson shouted over the police radio to asked if any officers involved in the chase had a shotgun.

“Let’s get this stopped before somebody gets killed,” Jefferson said.

Meanwhile, at the BCSO firing range at the Bee County Expo Center, Texas Ranger James Bennett was standing around with other rangers from South Texas talking and getting ready to go through firearms qualifications.

Bennett said he knew immediately that the three departments engaged in the pursuit were local officers. He jumped into his state-owned pickup and headed in that direction.

By the time Longoria had made it into the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 181 on the way back to Beeville, Bennett had worked his way into an advantageous position in the chase.

Much of what happened next was captured by the dash camera in Bernal’s patrol car.

Shortly before the final moments of the chase, Bernal’s camera showed Sgt. Garcia and Assistant Police Chief Richard Cantu standing on opposite sides of the roadway with shotguns ready. Both men fired at the tires on the pickup. One slug fired from a shotgun penetrated the right side of the front bumper but it was just inches too high to hit the tire on that side.

Then Bennett pulled up to the right side of the stolen pickup at speeds around 110 mph, his right wheels actually on the shoulder and even on the grass at the edge of the highway. Then he pushed the barrel of his AR-15 out of the driver’s side window and started firing at the pickup’s rear tires.

Jefferson said he was trying to catch up to Longoria and Bennett at that time and he estimated that he must have been driving at about 125 mph. But within seconds Bennett had maneuvered into another position and had managed to shoot out both rear tires using the AR-15.

Jefferson had said, “Let’s get this stopped” at 10:05 a.m. And at 10:14 officers radioed that shots had been fired. A minute later an officer radioed, “Back tires are out, back tires are out, he’s all over the road.”

Just a few seconds later Jefferson radioed that the chase had been stopped.

Just before Jefferson made that announcement, Longoria had tried to turn back again and go south against the traffic toward Skidmore. But as he tried to make the turn just south of Oak Lane, Bennett executed what police call a PIT (precision immobilization technique) and pushed the stolen pickup across both northbound traffic lanes and off into the drainage ditch on the east side of U.S. 181.

Bennett said Longoria was still trying to pull back out on the roadway on two flat rear tires when BPD units rushed in front of the vehicle and stopped the chase.

A city officer ran to the pickup, broke out the right side cab window and officers reached in and pulled Longoria to the ground where he was handcuffed. He was then led to a waiting police car and rushed back to Beeville where he was quickly locked in a cell at the Bee County Jail.

Treviño said Longoria was charged with several felony crimes. The most serious charge was aggravated assault on a public servant, the result of his trying to ram more than one police officer.

That charge is a first degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if he is convicted.

He also was charged with three counts of burglary of a habitation, a second degree felony, evading arrest/detention with a motor vehicle, a third degree felony, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a state jail felony.

Another man suspected of being with Longoria before the chase began, 18-year-old John Garcia, was held on charges of no driver’s license and possession of a controlled substance.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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