The pursuit of a stolen police cruiser ended with the fatal shooting of two men and the closing of Interstate 35E in Ellis County Wednesday morning.[[305954021,C]]
The chase began after an Italy police officer pulled over a 199 Saab for speeding near Texas 34 and I-35E at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.
Chief Shawn Martin said during the stop, police found drugs and a gun in the car. An officer then handcuffed both men, and put them in the backseat of his police SUV, Martin said.
The latest news from around North Texas.
The officer was looking and the suspects' vehicle when, at some point, the two men got into the front of the officer's SUV and drove away.
"We are still trying to figure out how they got into the front seat of the car to drive it away," said Martin.
The chase went for about three hours throughout southern Ellis County.
At about 11:15 p.m., authorities said they spiked the tires to stop the SUV, which was heading north in the southbound lanes of I-35E.
Negotiators used police radios to talk to the men in the police-issued Chevrolet Tahoe. At one point, the driver — later identified as 18-year-old Miguel Martinez — threatened to kill himself if police didn't stop chasing him.
Police said they heard a gunshot from inside the SUV just before Martinez exited the vehicle holding a gun. Officers then shot him.
The passenger — 23-year-old Daniel Dankert — was found dead inside the vehicle, according to police.
Authorities shut down I-35E in both directions as Texas Rangers investigate the incident. Police reopened the northbound lanes just before 9 a.m. and the southbound lanes before 10 a.m.
The arresting officer injured his hand while trying to get back into the police SUV as the suspects fled. He is expected to be okay.
"We face that every day. You never know [when] you walk up to a vehicle, you don't know who is in that vehicle or don't know how that stop is going to end up. People throw out the term 'routine traffic stop.' There is no routine traffic stop," added Chief Martin.
Italy Mayor Steven Farmer also spoke on the incident Wednesday.
"I know we did everything by the book and we are standing behind our officers on this. We are going to get through it, and if there are things we need to change in the future we will to make it a better and safe environment not only for our officers but our community members," he said.
NBC 5's Todd L. Davis and Julie Fine contributed to this report.