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Carjackers lead police on dramatic car chase on I-80

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue | Posted - Aug. 14, 2011 at 4:09 p.m.

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ECHO, SUMMIT COUNTY — A dangerous fugitive once imprisoned for shooting at an Oregon county sheriff was caught Sunday after a high speed chase into Utah along Interstate 80, where he and his wife were cornered by deputies in a tense standoff.

The pair — on the run since mid-July — had an encounter with Nebraska police on Tuesday and were able to escape after a high speed vehicle chase and three hour ground search of a field where they had escaped.

Then, this weekend, police say Roy Scott Fritts Jr., 33, and Jessica Fritts, 35, were camping with their traveling partner in Sweetwater County, Wyo., when some sort of dispute arose.

Sweetwater County's Sheriff's detective Dick Blust Jr., said Edmund Thornell, 54, of Costa Mesa, Calif., was shot multiple times. He flagged down a passerby on a county road south of Rock Springs, where police were told the pair had taken off in his 1994 Chevrolet van.

The van was spotted near Evanston on I-80 where the pursuit started along the interstate 30 miles into Utah. At Echo Junction, Utah officers laid down spikes, disabling the van, said Summit County Sheriff's detective Sgt. Ron Bridge.

The two then fled on foot and carjacked another vehicle at gunpoint, but they were unable to flee because they did not know how to operate a manual transmission, Bridge said.

The sergeant said the pair then tried to break into a house and ended up running into a nearby field.

While the woman surrendered after being cornered by deputies, her male partner — sporting a gun in his waistband — refused to comply with officers' orders for several tense minutes.

He eventually surrendered.

The sheriff's office said Fritts is a wanted fugitive who absconded from supervised prison release on two counts of attempted aggravated murder and two counts of possessing a handgun while committing a felony. Jessica Fritz has a felony conviction for robbery but is not under any supervision.

Media reports say Fritts went to prison in 2001 for shooting at the Union County Sheriff in Oregon and pointing a gun at another man.

In Nebraska this week, state troopers said they believe the pair stole a car and were spotted in the vehicle on a highway west of Lexington. There was a 10-minute chase that ended when the pair abandoned the vehicle and ran into a field.

Thornell was treated at a Wyoming hospital and then flown to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

The Frittses are in custody at the Summit County Jail in Park City.



Amy Joi O'Donoghue


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