Low-speed pursuit through 3 counties
Polk County Enterprise - December 2007
LIVINGSTON — Livingston Police Officer Kurt Riley saw a man in a 2006 Mitsubishi engaging in suspicious activity on Colita Street. He initiated a pursuit of the vehicle at 12:04 a.m. Saturday that continued for three hours and covered Polk, Angelina, San Jacinto and Montgomery counties, reports from the Texas Department of Public Safety show.
The pursuit ended at 3:15 a.m. when John Charlie Kofron Jr., 50, of Livingston finally pulled his vehicle over onto the shoulder of U.S. 59 at mile post 476 in Montgomery County. When Koffron stopped his vehicle, he put a small silver pistol to his head and shot himself.
The multi-agency pursuit began when Riley attempted to stop the vehicle after he disregarded a stop sign. He fled north on U.S. 59 to the Neches River with DPS Trooper Brent Murray and several marked patrol units from Livingston Police and Polk County Sheriff’s Office assisting in the pursuit.
Pursuing officers made several attempts to spike the tires of the fleeing vehicle, but the driver managed to avoid the spikes.
Additional troopers assigned to Angelina County and Angelina County Pct. 1 Constable Tom Selman were waiting for the suspect at the Angelina County line, but he turned around at the Neches River and fled back south on U.S. 59.
San Jacinto County DPS Trooper Kevin Burman deployed spikes on the Loop 59 Bypass on the overpass near Livingston Junior High which caused the two front tires of the Mitsubishi to go flat.
To this point, the fleeing driver had been driving at a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour and with the two flat tires he continued at 15 to 30 mph.
When pursuing officers made additional attempts to force Kofron onto the shoulder of the road or deploy additional spikes, he pointed the pistol at officers.
Burman managed to get ahead of the fleeing man again just south of the Trinity River bridge and sucessfully deployed spikes that deflated the rear tires.
As the pursuit moved south, officers from Cleveland PD, Splendora PD, DPS New Caney, Liberty County SO and Roman Forest PD joined the chase.
The parade of officers included two units that kept normal traffic along U.S. 59 a safe distance away from the pursuit.
As the pursuit continued at 15 to 30 mph for nearly an hour, southbound traffic backed up for nearly a mile behind the officers.
When the suspect reached mile post 476 in Montgomery County, DPS officers said he pulled to the shoulder and shot himself in the left side of the head at 3:15 a.m.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Montgomery County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace James Metts, who ordered an autopsy at Southeast Texas Forensic in Conroe.
After the man was identified, DPS officials said he had an extensive criminal history and had narcotics and beer in the car with him in addition to the handgun.
The vehicle had been rented from Enterprise Leasing in Houston.
Sgt. David T. Rainwater of the Texas Rangers has been assigned to investigate the incident as a death in custody.
Deputy Rob Thomas with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office notified family members in Polk County of the man’s death.