A Polk County woman was safely freed after being abducted Monday night, and the suspect led authorities on a two-county chase, shot at pursuing officers and fatally shot himself after his car was immobilized.
Elizabeth Rae Hamilton, 26, was able to escape from the car at the conclusion of the chase early Tuesday on southbound Interstate 95 in Brevard County, officials said.
Lakeland police said the suspect was her ex-boyfriend, 28-year-old Brett Lee Curtis, who was found in the car dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police said they received a call about 7:30 p.m. Monday from Hamilton’s mother to report that her daughter was “missing” from her job at Lakeland Square Mall.
After an initial investigation, police determined that she may have been taken by Curtis.
A statewide alert was issued for a white Nissan Altima believed to be driven by Curtis, and the vehicle was spotted by South Daytona police at 3:03 a.m. Tuesday.
When the driver refused to stop, a chase ensued, authorities said.
During the chase, the Nissan’s driver opened fire on pursuing law enforcement, authorities said. He also called 911 to tell officers to stop the pursuit, officials said.
Volusia County deputies said the chase ended on Interstate 95 near Titusville after the Nissan was disabled with the use of stop sticks deployed by Brevard County deputies.
As the vehicle came to stop, Hamilton fled from the car, authorities said.
The driver remained inside the Nissan. He was pronounced dead at 3:56 a.m.
Southbound I-95 near the scene was closed to traffic because of the incident and investigation.
No officers from any of the agencies was injured, Lakeland police said.
In a statement issued through the Lakeland Police Department, Hamilton’s mother thanked officers responsible for her daughter’s safe return.
“We are not commenting on the case at this time as it is under investigation,” Robin Hamilton said. “We would like to express our deep gratitude and sincere thanks for the efforts of all law enforcement and security agencies who aided in the process which culminated in our daughter’s safe return. We would also like to especially thank the officers and detectives of the Lakeland Police Department for their immediate response, steady determination and exemplary manner in which they handled this matter.”