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John Hollenhorst and Gene Kennedy Reporting We now know the name of the man who shot and killed himself after a high-speed chase through Vernal.
A Highway Patrol trooper attempted to pull over a 17-year-old driver and his passenger, 21-year-old Todd Murray, for speeding on U.S. Highway 40 west of Vernal on Sunday.
The car turned south on SR 88 and across the Green River at Ouray. The pursuit went on for about a half hour.
Sgt. Jeff Nigbur of the Utah Highway Patrol said, "Speeds in the chase got up to approximately 125 mph at one point."
As they traveled south on S.R. 88, the suspect's vehicle did a U-turn and rammed the patrol car at low speed. According to Sgt. Jeff Nigbur, "That strike did cause some initial damage to the trooper's vehicle, but minor. And the trooper was able to continue pursuing the subject. [He]traveled out of that area, tried, failed to negotiate a fork in the road. Instead of going left or right, they went straight down into a ravine and crashed."
Vernal Police Chief Gary Jensen recounts, "[The] chase ended in a crash. The vehicle crashed into a small ravine and became disabled. The two occupants of the vehicle ran on foot."
The driver and passenger ran in different directions. After running about a half mile, Murray confronted officers from a distance of 100 yards or so. Jensen continued, "The subject raised a handgun and fired twice at my officer. And the officer returned fire with two rounds. At that point the individual took his own life with his handgun."
"After that we didn't hear anything from him," said Sgt. Jeff Nigbur. "We went down into the ravine and apparently found the subject. It looks like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."
The 17-year-old driver was is in jail. Murray is a member of the Ute tribe, and since this ended on an Indian reservation, the FBI is investigating. The officer chasing Murray is now on leave pending an investgation.
The police chief said that he just cannot understand what motivated Murray to start shooting under those circumstances.