'Bonnie, Clyde' shot after chase
Two suspects were shot by police Tuesday after the couple went on a car theft and home invasion crime spree.
Sheriff's deputies opened fire on a man and woman after a high-speed chase and pursuit yards from a day care and Sherrills Ford Elementary School.
"They had a Bonnie and Clyde thing going on," said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid.
The pursuit started about 2:45 p.m. when sheriff's deputies received several calls reporting sightings of a suspicious vehicle in a subdivision about 5 miles from Island Point Road in Sherrills Ford.
Reid said a deputy arrived at the scene to find two suspects standing outside of a 1999 Chevrolet truck. Neither the man nor the woman could produce a driver's license or identification, so the deputy went back to his vehicle to check the license plate of the suspects' truck.
The deputy discovered the truck was stolen and wanted in Oconee County, S.C. Before he could detain the suspects, however, the man and the woman jumped into the vehicle and drove down the road.
Reid said minutes after the chase started, the deputy watched the truck careen off the road and crash into a tree. When he looked inside, he discovered the suspects had fled the truck and were running down an embankment.
The couple then found an empty truck sitting on nearby train tracks. The truck had wheels designed to drive on railroad tracks, and the suspects drove down the tracks for several minutes before exiting the vehicle and stopping near the intersection of Island Point Road and Sherrills Ford Road.
They broke into one house on Island Point Road, but the homeowner locked the door before the couple could enter.
By that time during the chase, officers gathered on Island Point Road and established a perimeter and several roadblocks inside the area. The suspects, however, weren't ready to stop.
They entered several houses, taking the owners' car keys in an attempt to steal their vehicles. Reid said the home invasions happened so quickly that he doesn't yet know what happened between the suspects and the homeowners.
The suspects entered a house in an attempt to steal another car, and Reid said officers felt sure they could detain the couple inside the house.
"We think we have them in the house, when about 50 yards down the road, we hear tires spinning," Reid said.
The suspects escaped in a red Jeep, but because Island Point Road dead-ends, they had nowhere to go but back toward about 10 police cars from the Catawba County Sheriff's Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
The couple avoided two of the officers' roadblocks by swerving onto a grassy shoulder. At the third road block, the jeep blew a tire, causing the vehicle to slow down.
As the Jeep drove toward officers, they fired in self defense, Reid said.
The man jumped out of the Jeep, falling on the ground and throwing his hands into the air. Deputies surrounded him immediately and placed him in handcuffs.
There were several bullet holes in the Jeep, and its tires appeared to be deflated. The vehicle came to rest near an embankment at the bottom of Rebecca Howard's front yard.
"I heard the sirens, and I kept thinking, 'Why are they not going by? Why are they not going by?'" Howard said.
Howard was taking a nap during the incident, and she said she was surprised that neither she nor her dogs heard anything more than sirens during the incident.
"Usually it's so quiet around here," she said.
Reid said the male suspect was shot in the lower leg and the female suspect was shot in the foot. Their injuries aren't life-threatening, but Reid said they were taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.
Police found a gun inside the truck the suspects drove on the railroad tracks, but they didn't recover a weapon inside the Jeep.
The suspects were the only people injured during the incident.