A suspect in a stolen car that was pursued by North Charleston police officers ran away from a crash scene in the Deer Park neighborhood early Thursday and fatally shot himself nearby.
Peter Andrew Villa III, 23, died of self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Charleston County Deputy Coroner Dottie Lindsay. It wasn't known if the fatal shot was intentional.
The chase started at 2 a.m. when North Charleston Police Department officers saw the stolen Honda Accord on Interstate 26 at the Ashley Phosphate Road interchange, agency spokesman Spencer Pryor said.
The officers followed the car about 4 miles, and then it took the U.S. Highway 78 exit.
Less than a half-mile down University Boulevard, the car crashed into a used car sales lot across from the entrance to Wannamaker County Park.
Two of the three people inside the wrecked vehicle got out and ran behind some nearby buildings, Pryor said. Villa was found a short time later, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Nicholas David Lowe, 19, was arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest. Shaquille Davon Harris, 20, was arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest, and possession of the drug MDMA.
The State Law Enforcement Division was investigating the death, and the S.C. Highway Patrol was looking into the crash.
Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly, a Highway Patrol spokeswoman, said the suspects' vehicle hit three cars as the chase ended. No one was injured in the wreck, and Wimberly said she had no further information about it.
The three other cars hit by the stolen Honda belonged to Michael Davis, the owner of the Kash Savers used-vehicle dealership at the intersection of University Boulevard and Fernwood Drive.
The police called Davis to the scene about an hour after the wreck.
He found that the suspects' stolen Honda Accord had bowled through the intersection and lost control. It narrowly missed a metal utility pole, he said, then crashed into an Infiniti G35 and a Ford Escape he had planned to sell. After the Honda bounced off those two cars, it scraped the side of one of the Honda Accords that Davis had on his lot, then came to a stop.
Davis, who has owned the dealership for seven years, said he has coped with burglaries and thefts on the lot. But Thursday morning's ordeal was the first of its kind there.
"They're usually stealing cars from me," Davis said. "Now the stolen cars are coming at me."
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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