A 28-year-old Mississippi man who was the target of a nationwide manhunt after police say he killed his girlfriend and shot at least three other people during a multi-state crime spree has been captured in Kansas.
Alex Bridges Deaton was taken into custody in Ellsworth County, Kansas, on March 1, after also being seen in Oklahoma and New Mexico, WLBT-TV reports.
Deaton is accused of killing his girlfriend, Heather Robinson, on February 22 or 23, at her apartment in Castlewoods, a neighborhood in Flowood, Mississippi, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. He then stole her SUV and fled, police said.
While on the run, Deaton is accused of shooting a jogger, and in the murder of a 69-year-old woman, Brenda Pinter, who was shot at a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi on February 23. Police said Deaton was seen near Tulsa, Oklahoma, after leaving Mississippi. His only connection to the area was a person who moved there from Mississippi, authorities said.
On March 1, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said Deaton popped up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he abandoned Robinson’s SUV and carjacked a couple, shooting one of them during the incident.
The Clarion-Legder reports his last known location before he was captured was in Kiowa County, Kansas, where he was involved in a pursuit with sheriff’s deputies while driving the car stolen in New Mexico. He escaped on foot after leaving the car in Pratt, Kansas. About 4:15 a.m., Deaton held-up a convenience store clerk in Pratt at gunpoint and shot him, stealing his car, law enforcement sources told The Clarion-Ledger.
He was taken into custody after being chased by sheriff’s deputies in Ellsworth County while driving a stolen Cadillac.
“The innocent victims in this, the jogger, the store clerk, there are so many innocent people, it’s just a heartbreaking situation, that’s what makes this case different to me,” Bailey said. “This guy apparently hadn’t a care who he had to kill or what he had to do. I don’t know what his end goal was, it was very odd behavior.”
Authorities are also investigating claims made by Deaton that he may have been involved in other killings.
“I don’t know, there very well could be some more unsolved murders coming up,” Bailey said. “He covered a lot of ground.”
Here’s what you need to know about Alex Deaton and the crime spree:
1. Deaton Was Captured After a Fiery Crash in Kansas Following a Police Chase
The manhunt ended Wednesday morning in a fiery crash just outside of Wilson, Kansas, according to a statement from Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hays.
Hays said Deaton was spotted by troopers driving eastbound on Interstate 70, by Dorrance, and did not stop. He fled at a high rate of speed and hit spike strips just before 8 a.m. He continued driving the damaged car toward Wilson where troopers “used tactical vehicle intervention to successfully end the pursuit. After the vehicle crashed and caught on fire, Deaton was immediately placed under arrest with no further incident. There were no injuries to KHP personnel or to Deaton.”
He was driving a Cadillac he is accused of stealing from a convenience store clerk in Pratt County, Kansas. The clerk was shot during the robbery and is in critical condition, police say.
You can watch the Rankin County press conference about the arrest below:
Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest said the Kansas troopers rammed Deaton at a high rate of speed to end the manhunt.
“I understand the troopers did some pretty heroic tactical maneuvers with their vehicles to get the man stopped,” Guest said at a press conference. “We appreciate that. I think the public needs to know that a dangerous man is off the streets.”
Police had said Deaton was a threat to officers, and there were fears he would try to resist being taken into custody. Police said the wreck that ended the chase was “violent,” with his car flipping over and catching on fire.
“I think his resisting ended at that point,”Rankin County Undersheriff Raymond Duke said.
2. Police Say ‘Something Inside Him Appears to Have Snapped’ Before Deaton Strangled His Girlfriend After She Broke Up With Him
Alex Deaton is accused of strangling his girlfriend, 30-year-old nurse Heather Robinson, at her apartment on February 22 or 23, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. She was found dead at the home in the Vineyard apartments in Castlewoods when a deputy and a family member went to the home for a welfare check, according to police. Her 2012 GMC Arcadia SUV was missing.
“Something inside of him appears to have snapped,” Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said at a press conference.
According to WAVE-TV, Robinson was last seen leaving work on Wednesday, February 22, at 7 p.m. She texted a friend “happy birthday,” at 8 p.m. and told the friend she had broken up with Deaton, WAVE reports.
“The critical point in this is when poor Heather realized she didn’t want to have a relationship with (Deaton) and was trying to distance herself, and was going to break up with him, and he wasn’t going to have it,” Bailey said. “He wasn’t going to let her go. I think he went into a fit of rage and after that everything went downhill.”
He is facing a charge of first-degree murder in Robinson’s death.
“We do know that her cause of death is strangulation,” Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest told reporters. “We are awaiting some additional findings from the medical examiner and possibly the state crime laboratory. Based upon that, the charges may be upgraded to capital murder.”
Robinson, a graduate of Quitman High School, the University of West Alabama and the Mississippi University for Women, worked as a nurse at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Robinson’s family issued a statement on February 28:
Our family has been overwhelmed by our tragic loss since Friday afternoon. Our lives are forever changed and words cannot express our pain and sorrow. For those that did not know Heather, she had a BS degree in Nursing and enjoyed her career in the medical field. She was a very hard working and determined young lady and held respect for all. At this point we ask that our privacy be respected so we can grieve as a family. We would like to thank all the Law Enforcement for the efforts in working to bring this to an end. Again we would ask for the respect and privacy for all our family as we prepare to lay our precious daughter to rest. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center said in a statement, “The UMMC Adult Emergency Department family will deeply miss a valuable asset to the department. Heather was a caring, compassionate individual to both her patients and co-workers. We send our thoughts and prayers to her family and hope they are comforted in knowing how much she was cherished.”
3. Police Say He Shot a Jogger in a ‘Random Act of Violence’ & Is Also Believed to Have Fatally Shot a 69-Year-Old Woman in a Church
Deaton is accused of shooting a jogger in a random drive-by shooting on Friday, February 24, in the Castlewoods neighborhood in Mississippi, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office said. He has been charged with aggravated assault in that case. That shooting happened not far from the apartment where Robinson lived and was killed.
Police said he fired at the woman from the driver’s seat of the SUV he stole from Robinson. The jogger was struck in the thigh and survived the shooting. She told police a white male with facial hair shot her.
Deaton has also been charged in the murder of 69-year-old Brenda Pinter, who was found dead of a gunshot wound on February 23 at a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi, NBC News reports.
Brenda Pinter was found dead inside the church about 6 p.m. by her husband, Wayne. She arrived at the Dixon Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Mississippi at 4 p.m., to clean, as she does every week, Wayne Pinter said.
“I thought she had a heart attack maybe,” he told NBC News. “I had no idea that she’d been shot.”
Wayne Pinter told NBC he didn’t know of any connection between his wife and Deaton, but said Deaton grew up near Neshoba County.
Surveillance video showed a white SUV at the church, the Neshoba County Sheriff told CNN.
“I have a video showing a vehicle that is very similar to the vehicle that he (Deaton) was known to be driving,” Sheriff Tommy Waddell said. “That vehicle belonged to a victim that was found deceased in Rankin County. There is no link we know of between this woman and the other two victims.”
Waddell had called Deaton a “person of great interest” in the fatal shooting. After his capture, Waddell said Deaton would be charged in the case.
Deaton fled to Oklahoma, where a “former family member” lives, after those shootings, police said. Investigators lost track of Deaton after he was seen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on February 27.
4. He Ambushed Hikers in New Mexico With a Shovel & Pistol Before Putting Them Into the Trunk of Their Own Car, Police Say
Deaton re-appeared on February 28 about 6 p.m. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where police said he carjacked and kidnapped a couple near the La Luz Trailhead, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
The couple, who were on a hike together, were confronted by Deaton and forced into the male’s car, Sandoval County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Benally said.
“At some point, the two hikers were able to escape and they fled,” Benally said. “At that time the suspect fired a shot and hit the male victim. He was able to get the girl back to into his custody.”
The woman fled from Deaton when an ambulance arrived in the area to help the injured man. Police said the man sustained a gunshot wound to the buttocks, but is expected to survive. The woman was grazed by bullets.
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said at a press conference that Deaton was hiding in the woods and ambushed the couple as they returned from their hike. He was armed with a handgun and a shovel, Bailey said.
Bailey described a chaotic scene during that incident.
“He placed them in the trunk of a car, was leaving the area and when he left the area, and when he slowed down, the male victim pulled the emergency latch of the trunk and jumped out and ran,” Bailey said. The woman also jumped out and that is when Deaton opened fire on them. The male was able to get into the car and drive off, while Deaton recaptured the woman.
Bailey said Deaton and the woman went to a nearby home and he stole a van at gunpoint. He drove off with the female hiker and they came upon the white Honda that Deaton carjacked originally from the hikers, Bailey said. The male hiker had left that car and found someone to drive him to the hospital. Bailey said Deaton got out of the van and back into the Honda and drove off, leaving the female hiker behind.
Police later found Robinson’s car near where the carjacking of the hikers occurred.
Deaton was then spotted in Kiowa County, Kansas, near Pratt, driving the Honda he stole from the hikers during the abduction, The Clarion-Ledger reports. The local sheriff’s department chased Deaton and used stop sticks to disable the car, the newspaper reports. But Deaton was able to escape on foot, according to police.
He doubled back to a convenience store and took the clerk’s keys at gunpoint before shooting him, police told The Clarion-Ledger. The clerk is in critical condition after the 4:15 a.m. shooting.
He stole a black Cadillac CTS from the clerk and was later arrested after a chase with Ellsworth County Sheriff’s Office deputies, KSN-TV reports.
5. Deaton, the Father of 2 Children, Posted on Facebook About His Love for Guns & Motorcycles
Alex Bridges Deaton is the father of two children, a son and a daughter, according to his Facebook page.
He has posted several photos with his motorcycle, and has also posted about guns, including an anti-Muslim meme about gun control:
According to police, Deaton worked as a sales associate at an AT&T store.
Deaton communicated with his mother through text messages and in a short phone call on Saturday, The Clarion-Ledger reports. He sent jumbled, unintelligible messages, and also incriminating messages, police said.
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said Deaton isn’t an “illiterate person. He’s fairly intelligent. Some of the actions he did prior to us finding out about the crime, after we found out about the crime … several different things point that Alex is a very intelligent person and he was doing specific things to avoid detection and capture.”
Police said Deaton had access to four or five handguns, WJTV reports.
“Deaton does have a concealed carry permit and we believe that he is in possession of at least two (firearms),” Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest told CNN.
The Clarion-Ledger reports 9mm shell casings were found at the convenience store shooting in Kansas.
Bailey told reporters the Kansas troopers recovered a Glock 9mm pistol, partially burned, after Deaton was taken into custody. Two victims in New Mexico said he had a black and silver .38 revolver, Bailey said.
The sheriff said they will be sending investigators to New Mexico to retrieve Heather Robinson’s car, and also to Kansas to try to interview Deaton.
Police had been concerned about the path of violence Deaton is accused of leaving.
He was to be considered “armed and dangerous.” Bailey told reporters, “Not only is he a threat to the public, but I believe he’s a threat to any law enforcement that stops him.”
A $30,000 reward had been offered for information leading to his capture.
If you have information to help in this case, please call Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS (8477) or submit a tip online through the Web Tip link on the home page of the Central MS Crime Stoppers website or use your mobile device or computer to submit a tip by going to http://www.P3tips.com, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office said.
“We want him apprehended,” Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest said. “We don’t want anyone else hurt. We don’t know the frame of mind he’s in.”