APACHE JUNCTION, AZ - A Phoenix police officer shot and killed a man who police say stole a vehicle, led them on a high-speed chase, rammed into several police cruisers and nearly hit pedestrians.
Police have identified the man as 51-year-old Ronald Chante.
ABC15 is investigating reports Chante is the same man who threatened to kill Sheriff Joe Arpaio with a machine gun last week.
Phoenix police spokesman James Holmes said the incident started around 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning at a Phoenix Fire Department facility near 22nd Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road.
Phoenix police officers were called to respond to reports of a man who was driving a City of Phoenix truck at a high rate of speed through the parking lot and had crashed through the gate of the facility.
A Phoenix firefighter followed the truck to the 7th Avenue and the I-17 access road.
The suspect began driving north in the southbound lanes of traffic, and deliberately tried to hit the firefighter's vehicle with the truck.
The suspect then sped north on 7th Avenue towards the I-17.
A responding Phoenix police officer got behind the firefighter and the suspect's vehicle as the truck entered the interstate. The suspect turned the truck around in the middle of the highway and began traveling west in the eastbound lanes.
The suspect then tried to hit the officer's vehicle with the truck before exiting the highway.
The suspect proceeded down 7th Avenue, now followed by two Phoenix police officers who attempted to make a traffic stop on the truck.
The suspect abruptly stopped in the roadway, put the truck in reverse and rammed one of the officer's Chevy Tahoe. The suspect then moved forward, made a U-turn and struck the same officer's vehicle head-on.
The suspect continued traveling east while making attempts to strike several responding police units from Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and, eventually, Apache Junction.
Before reaching Apache Junction, the suspect had hit one Phoenix and one Mesa patrol unit and, while attempting to "carjack" a citizen in Tempe, he struck one civilian vehicle.
The suspect arrived to the area of Ironwood Drive and Superstition Boulevard, in Apache Junction, where he deliberately struck the marked patrol car of an Apache Junction police sergeant.
An officer from the Phoenix Police Special Assignments Unit observed the assault and saw that the truck was stopped in the roadway.
"The officer saw that he (the suspect) was still trying to get away. He thought, this man has put enough people in enough danger, so he decided to put an end the chase and shot the suspect," Holmes said.
The suspect was hit by the gunfire and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities said some officers did receive minor injuries during the incident, but did not require hospitalization.
No civilians were injured during the incident.
Police determined the suspect had stolen the truck from a landfill near 31st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road before entering the fire training facility.
Police said Chante had an extended criminal history with numerous felony convictions and prison sentences.
Several people who knew Chante said he was battling mental illness and drug abuse.
They even suggested he was on a "suicide mission."
"He wanted to die," said a man who knew Chante by his street name of "Crash."
"It's too bad cause if he could of got some help, it might have ended differently," said the man.
"He would preach to no one but himself in the street," said neighbor Donald Piatowsky. "He is the kind of guy you would walk across the street to avoid."
Chante's girlfriend, Josie Passmore told ABC15 News by phone: "at least now he has some peace."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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