Crime

2 dead after kidnapping suspect leads police on chase that ends in shootout in Bond County

Illinois police captain discusses chase that ended in shootout

Illinois State Police captain Tim Tyler discusses the condition of a mother and her 10-year-old daughter who were kidnapped. The driver fled police from in St. Louis into Southern Illinois before a shootout that resulted in at least two deaths.
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Illinois State Police captain Tim Tyler discusses the condition of a mother and her 10-year-old daughter who were kidnapped. The driver fled police from in St. Louis into Southern Illinois before a shootout that resulted in at least two deaths.

Editor’s note: This story incorrectly stated how many people died and has been edited to reflect the correct information.

At least two people were shot dead Tuesday night after a man fled from police in St. Louis into Southern Illinois with a mother and her 10-year-old daughter believed to be kidnapped in the car with him, Illinois State Police say.

Leslie K. Austin, 39, of Jefferson City, Missouri, was shot and killed during police shootout in Bond County, but further details have not been released. Specifically, police have not said whether he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound or a whether he was killed when officers returned fire. He would not comment on whether police think it was a domestic situation.

Police are in the preliminary stages of their investigation, Illinois State Police Captain Tim Tyler said. Police did locate a weapon at the end of the pursuit, Tyler said. Austin was driving the blue SUV when the pursuit ended. Whether he was inside or outside of the vehicle, ISP is not saying.

The chase began Tuesday night.

Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams said his agency received a call reporting shots fired in the area of 500 block of East Elm Street at 7:38 p.m.

“The reporting callers were able to identify a blue SUV that fled east at a high rate of speed. (When) officers arrived, they recovered multiple spent shell casings and broken glass that confirmed a weapons violation had occurred. A preliminary interview of witnesses helped identify the suspect and the victim. There were no gunshot victims reported at any local hospitals consistent with the time of the weapons call,” Williams said.

Other law enforcement agencies were notified, Williams said, to help locate the vehicle. A Franklin County, Missouri, deputy attempted to pull the SUV over and chase ensued while shots were fired from the suspect’s vehicle.

“A Missouri law enforcement agency crossed into Illinois on the Poplar Street Bridge. The pursuit was due to an alleged kidnapping and a prior shooting in Missouri,” Tyler said.

LK AUSTIN.JPG
Leslie K. Austin

Later, police said the mother and daughter inside the suspect’s 2017 Mitsubishi SUV were able to escape after the vehicle hit spike strips on IL 140 and slowed down significantly.

Danielle L. Smith, 33, from Jefferson City, Missouri, escaped the vehicle but suffered multiple gun shot wounds, Tyler said. Her daughter was uninjured.

Police later confirmed the child was reunited with family. Smith was in surgery Wednesday morning but was expected to survive. Besides being traumatized, Tyler said the juvenile was not injured.

“The suspect continued fleeing and attempted to carjack another vehicle at IL 140 at Shoal Creek. The suspect shot and killed the driver of the vehicle ... He continued to flee down a dead end road. The suspect exited the vehicle and continued to fire shots. Officers returned fire. The suspect was found to be deceased,” Tyler said.

The driver that was shot and killed during the attempted carjacking was identified at Gregory Price from Florissant, Missouri. He was 67 years old.

Tyler said the police investigation is ongoing and an autopsy will be conducted.

Police confirmed Austin, Smith and the child were considered to be in a domestic situation according to Illinois law.

An Illinois State Police official confirmed troopers were in compliance with pursuit policies during the incident.

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Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.
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