Chase ends in Lake Meade

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

After leading police on a multi-city, high-speed chase that ended in Suffolk Friday, a Virginia Beach man is in Western Tidewater Regional Jail charged with the attempted capital murder of a state trooper.

Trooper K.C. Kaufman is in stable condition in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he was airlifted after his police cruiser was rammed by a 1986 Chevy Suburban driven 33-year-old William Elton Gray. Kaufman received a severe concussion and a broken finger.

Email newsletter signup

Three other state police officers suffered minor injuries that were treated at the scene, said state police spokesman Sgt. D.S. Carr.

The pursuit began around 9:45 a.m. in Portsmouth, after local investigators saw Gray making a suspected drug buy, police said.

When authorities attempted to stop him, Gray fled in his SUV, leading police around the Mid-City area of Portsmouth and onto Interstate 264 west into Chesapeake, police said. State troopers joined the pursuit in Chesapeake, following Gray as he took U.S. Route 58 Bypass – at times traveling as past as 80 miles per hour – into Suffolk.

As the chase continued, Gray took West Constance Road to North Main Street, striking a state cruiser driven by Trooper A.N. Dabney, police said.

Then Gray got back on Route 58 eastbound, where he hit two more state police cruisers, including Kaufman’s, when troopers tried to stop him with a rolling roadblock.

That forced Gray to temporarily lose control of his SUV and cross the median, where he struck a fourth state police car during another rolling road block and began heading west on U.S. 58, police said.

The troopers’ third rolling road block was successful, when they managed to box in Gray’s vehicle on the bridge crossing Lake Meade. He rammed the troopers’ vehicles, then escaped from his SUV and jumped over the bridge rail – a 15-foot drop – into the murky waters, police said

Trooper J.M. Brown, who grabbed Gray as he was jumping off the bridge, was also pulled into Lake Meade, officials said. After about 10 minutes in the water, police pulled Gray out of the water and arrested him.

Despite constant concerns about police involvement in high-speed chases and injuries received by state police, Carr defended the authorities’ decision to pursue Gray.

&uot;When you begin pursuit, you never know what the suspect is running for or running from,&uot; Carr said.

&uot;…It became serious once the suspect rammed the state trooper’s car.

&uot;Now it is a person who tried to kill one of our own. We take this very seriously.&uot;

Beside the attempted capital murder charge, state police have charged Gray with five counts attempted malicious wounding of police officers, four counts felony destruction of state property, one count misdemeanor destruction of state property and one count of felony attempt to elude.

Portsmouth charged him with one count of cocaine possession, one count felony obstruction of justice, one count felony attempt to elude, one count suspended operator’s license, and one count improper registration.

Gray was charged with one count felony attempt to elude by Suffolk police.