An escaped inmate from Texas shot and killed himself in western Buncombe County on Tuesday after a high-speed chase with police.
The chase reached speeds up to 100 mph and involved Haywood County sheriff’s deputies and N.C. Highway Patrol officers. It began on Interstate 40 in Haywood and ended on Smoky Park Highway near the Haywood line.
Donald McFaden Orange, 29, turned a shotgun on himself as deputies closed in late Tuesday morning, Haywood Sheriff Bobby Suttles said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating, Suttles said. He said his officers did not fire their weapons.
“Since our people were involved in the chase, we felt it would be better to get an outside agency to investigate,” Suttles said.
Police closed that section of Smoky Park Highway for several hours as officers, including SBI agents, processed the scene.
Officers were able to stop Orange, who was driving a Ford pickup truck stolen in Texas, by using stop sticks. With a front tire flattened, Orange pulled off the road.
Haywood deputies who pulled in behind Orange got out of their cruisers with weapons drawn, but Orange shot himself before officers could get to the truck, authorities said.
Homer Pitts, who had just finished mowing grass across the highway from the shooting scene, witnessed the stop and shooting.
“They (deputies) were approaching him on each side with their guns,” Pitts said. “Then I heard a pop. At first I thought they shot him.”
Dozens of officers converged on the scene.
“I didn’t think there was that much law in the country,” Pitts said.
Buncombe deputies were on the scene but did not take part in the chase, Lt. Randy Sorrells said. The case will be handled by Haywood County and the SBI.
Orange, who had been jailed since last year on burglary and drug charges, escaped from a Parker County, Texas, inmate work crew Friday by stealing keys to a county-owned pickup truck and driving away.
He abandoned the truck in adjacent Jack County, then broke into several homes, stealing clothes, a shotgun and the Ford pickup truck he drove to North Carolina. Parker County is west of Fort Worth, about 1,000 miles from Asheville.
Suttles said Haywood deputies began pursuing Orange after he broke into a home in the Jonathan Creek area of northern Haywood. A woman returned home to find him in her house. When she confronted him, he fled. The woman was able to provide officers with a description of the pickup.
Haywood deputies spotted the blue and white truck on eastbound Interstate 40 near Lake Junaluska and pursued Orange at speeds up to 100 mph, Suttles said.
Orange got off the interstate at Exit 44 in West Asheville, then sped west on Smoky Park Highway toward Canton. Highway Patrol officers used stop sticks to flatten a tire on the pickup about a mile from where Orange pulled off the road.