Effingham County Suspect Dead After Florida Shootout - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/02/06

Effingham County Suspect Dead After Florida Shootout

Florida authorities train their guns on the stolen car Ashby was driving. Florida authorities train their guns on the stolen car Ashby was driving.

A massive manhunt which started in Effingham County and spread along the East Coast is over following a deadly shootout.

Investigators tell WTOC that 37-year-old William Ashby has been killed near St. Augustine, Florida, after wrecking his car and shooting at officers.

Monday night, Ashby led Florida police on a high-speed chase, crashed his car near Highway 16 in St. John's County, and crawled out shooting. Deputies from St. John's County fired back, killing Ashby on the spot.

A sheriff's deputy out of St. Augustine told WTOC Ashby led police on a high-speed chase topping 110 miles per hour along Interstate 95 before crashing off of Highway 16.

"This pursuit ended with the suspect driving off the side of the road into a grassy field, losing control and ending up in an embankment, at which point in time gunfire erupted," said Chuck Mulligan, a spokesman for the St. John's County Sheriff's Office. "The individual currently is deceased here at the scene."

Investigators say Ashby has been on the run since last Sunday. They say he walked in to Mighty Mike's convenience store on Old River Road in Eden, Georgia, and shot store clerk Waynetta Toler in the head from point-blank range. She survived, but Ashby got away.

Over the weekend, Police in Virginia linked him to the killing of a University of Virginia grad student who was found lying next to a car reported stolen from Georgia. They think Ashby shot 22-year-old Elizabeth Hafter, and stole her car. She was reported missing last Friday.

Investigators thought Ashby had returned to the Savannah area Monday, and had officers from all over the region looking out for him.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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