What began as a routine traffic stop on LSU’s campus Thursday turned into a high-speed chase that ended with the driver fatally shooting himself in the head, police said.
LSU Police Capt. Cory Lalonde said the driver, Steven W. Sanchez, 28, 14825 Bon Dickey Drive, wrecked his pickup and killed himself after leading three law enforcement agencies on an 80-mph, 40-minute pursuit through East Baton Rouge Parish.
Police said they did not know why Sanchez committed suicide.
“As of right now, we don’t have a motive on why he killed himself,” Lalonde said. “It may take speaking with the family and finding out more information about him.”
Court records show Sanchez had been previously arrested for possession of Schedule II drugs, a category which includes cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone and morphine. He also had some traffic violations.
No drugs were found in the car “to my knowledge,” Lalonde said.
The events leading to Sanchez’s death started at 3:50 p.m. when an LSU police officer parked near South Stadium Road and Highland Road saw Sanchez’s black Ford Ranger barrel through multiple barricades on South Stadium Road at “high rates of speed,” Lalonde said.
Sanchez then swerved and almost hit a golf cart with one person in it, then nearly struck two pedestrians, Lalonde said.
At that point, the LSU police officer activated his lights and sirens in an attempt to pull Sanchez’s pickup over, Lalonde said.
Sanchez started to pull over to the side of the road, but then took off down Stanford Avenue, Lalonde said.
LSU police contacted Baton Rouge police and the Sheriff’s Office to assist in the pursuit of Sanchez as it continued at 80 mph down Acadian Thruway, Perkins Road, Interstate 10 and Interstate 12, Lalonde said. “He was all over the place,” he said.
Police deployed spike strips several times throughout the 40-minute chase, but Sanchez continued through them, even after one of his tires blew out, Lalonde said.
Sanchez eventually pulled off I-12 at Essen Lane at 4:30 p.m., struck another car and crashed his pickup before firing one bullet into his head, Lalonde said.