published Friday, March 15th, 2013

Alabama man hospitalized after standoff

A Rosalie, Ala., man was reported in critical condition at Erlanger hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a chase and four-hour standoff with authorities Thursday on state Highway 71 north of his hometown.

Jackson County authorities said 22-year-old Jerome Lamar Wright was driving a stolen 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier when he encountered deputies who gave chase in Rosalie about 11 p.m. CDT Wednesday.

The chase ended when Wright's car began having engine problems just north of the intersection with County Road 345, Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen said Thursday.

But when Deputy Travis Renfro started walking up to the Cavalier, he saw the driver had a rifle to his head, so the officer retreated and called for backup, Harnen said.

Family members and authorities spent the next four hours trying to talk Wright into surrendering, but he eventually shot himself while still seated in the car about 3 a.m. CDT Thursday. Ambulance crews on standby near the scene quickly took Wright to a landing zone to meet an Air Evac medical helicopter for transport to Chattanooga, a sheriff's office news release states.

"We notified the family right after it happened, and some of them had been close by for most of the evening," Harnen said.

Harnen said authorities are not privy to medical information because Wright was not in their custody, but the chief deputy said he understood Wright was in critical condition Thursday afternoon.

Harnen said Wright had fled from authorities on "several occasions" in the past few weeks.

Wright was sought on numerous arrest warrants from the sheriff's office including third-degree burglary, theft of property, possession of controlled substances, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal mischief and harassment, the release states.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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