ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Two people are dead and one is injured after a kidnapping, carjacking and bi-state police chase.
Original call for “shots fired” in Jefferson City
Shortly before 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, police in Jefferson City received calls for shots being fired in the area of 500 block of East Elm Street. The callers told police that a blue SUV was seen speeding away from the area.
When officers arrived on East Elm Street, they found multiple spent shell casings and broken glass, which led them to conclude that a gun had been fired.
Police said they spoke with witnesses, who helped them identify a suspect, Leslie K. Austin of Jefferson City, and victim. No gunshot victims were found at any local hospitals that would be consistent with the weapons call.
Bi-state police chase
According to police, deputies in Franklin County spotted the blue SUV just after 9 p.m. on Highway 50 near Highway 47. They were then reportedly made aware that the car could be connected to a kidnapping and shooting in Jefferson City.
Jefferson City police also told the Missouri Highway Patrol the car was connected to an incident in their jurisdiction. Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputies then started chasing the vehicle shortly after on Interstate 44.
Austin's vehicle then reportedly sped down Interstate 44 into downtown St. Louis and went across the Poplar Street Bridge into Illinois around 9:35 p.m. The chase eventually ended in Bond County, Illinois. In total, the chase stretched over 100 miles.
According to authorities, a woman and 10-year-old girl were kidnapped out of Jefferson City and able to escape the Austin's car when the chase was on Route 140 near Shore Creek in Illinois. Police said their escape was made possible after tire deflation devices stopped the vehicle around 10:30 p.m.
The adult female kidnapping victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to the hospital, where she immediately underwent surgery. As of noon Wednesday, she was listed in critical condition.
During the police chase, law enforcement reported that multiple shots were fired from the Austin's vehicle.
Attempted carjacking leads to fatal shooting
After the kidnapping victims escaped, Austin allegedly tried to carjack another victim on Route 140. Police said that victim, identified as 67-year-old Gregory Price of Florissant, was shot and killed by Austin.
Illinois State troopers said Austin continued firing at them after the attempted carjacking and they fired back. Austin was found dead once the pursuit ended. Authorities said Austin killed himself.
According to police, Austin. 39, was believed to have been in a relationship with the female adult who was kidnapped. During their press conference, officials said the juvenile was believed to be the child of the 33-year-old kidnapping victim and Austin.
Attempted carjacking victim was returning home
Price's wife told News 4 he played euchre with friends in Panama, Illinois on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. She said he was traveling home from there when he was shot and killed.
His wife said she began to worry when he did not return home at his normal time and started looking for him. Around 3 a.m., her family reportedly got word from Greenville police that Price had died.
Price's wife said they have a 28-year-old son.
Suspect had a criminal history
Court records show Austin pleaded guilty in 2014 to domestic assault, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to four years in prison and placed on five years of supervised probation.
He also faced a domestic assault charge in 2013.
Austin had moved into an apartment about a half mile from the apartment complex where the shooting and kidnapping took place. Despite his history, a tenant in the building described Austin as a gentle giant.
"He was very quiet, polite, well-spoken, never would have thought he was capable of this," said the man, who requested anonymity. "He seemed very gentle, intelligent as well.
People at the complex told News 4 Austin talked of getting a two-bedroom apartment because he told others his daughter would sometimes be staying with him this summer.