Heavy police presence on US-70 in Johnston County after police chase, crash; suspect dead

CLAYTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- A police chase and subsequent crash on US-70 in Johnston County left one person dead Monday afternoon.

Clayton police say the North Carolina Highway Patrol was chasing a stolen vehicle and confirmed that the driver fired shots at pursuing officers.

SEE ALSO: Woman's body found .2 miles from Johnston County scene where man stole truck, led troopers on chase

The chase ended with a crash near the Nick's Flippin Kids gymnasium.

The suspect, 26-year-old Enrique Lopez of Smithfield, died at the scene.

"From what I understand the suspect fired shots at officers earlier on in the pursuit and there was an exchange of gunfire on the law enforcement side," said Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand.

Myhand said Lopez may have been shot and wounded when he drove the stolen truck.

Video from Chopper11 HD showed a tow truck flipped over in the woods, about a hundred yards away from the road.

Myhand said that shortly after 4:30 p.m., police got a call of a multi-agency pursuit on US 70 Business. Clayton police officers put out stop sticks near where the wreck happened.

Lopez stole a tow truck, Myhand said, and it hit the stop sticks, veered across the highway and crashed.

No law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting or chase. However, one trooper was placed on administrative duty while the case is investigated, as is agency protocol in any trooper-involved shooting.

The gunfire-filled chase came way too close for comfort for Gaylean Sanders.

"I saw the police chasing him, coming down there because they had their sirens and lights on and everything," said Sanders.

Police and Highway Patrol chased Lopez right past Sanders' mailbox just as he was checking the mail.

"That's when I saw him come out the window with the shotgun. Then I came back like this and I heard the shot," he said. "He wasn't planning on pulling over. He had no indication at all that he was pulling over for the police. He was just high speed."

NC Highway Patrol is heading the investigation.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.