Pursuit, shooting closes I-95 in Brevard; kidnapped woman escapes
Deputies: Lakeland woman runs to safety; driver shoots, kills himself
A Central Florida woman safely escaped from a vehicle following a police chase early Tuesday after, according to deputies, she was kidnapped from a mall by her ex-boyfriend, who shot and killed himself.
[LISTEN: 911 call | II | III | IV | Woman reported missing (Warning: Graphic language)]
Elizabeth Rae Hamilton, 26, ran away from the vehicle, which came to a stop on Interstate 95 in Brevard County. Her ex, identified by Lakeland police as 28-year-old Brett Lee Curtis, shot himself after the pursuit, which began in South Daytona, officials said.
According to Lakeland police, Hamilton's mother had reported her daughter missing from her job at the Lakeland Square Mall around 7:30 p.m. Monday. Officers determined that Hamilton may had been abducted by Curtis and a statewide alert was issued for a white Nissan Altima, with Curtis as the apparent driver.
The vehicle was spotted in South Daytona at 3:03 a.m. Tuesday and a police chase began, with the driver firing shots at officers, officials said. No one was struck by bullets, however.
The driver also called 911 while the pursuit was ongoing.
“I am a gentleman from Lakeland. I kidnapped my ex-fiancee. If he continues to follow me, I will kill her. That is your final warning,” the caller said.
The car, which was going more than 90 mph, ran over some Stop Sticks but continued until coming to a stop in the southbound lanes of I-95 near Stuckway Road, just north of Mims.
Hamilton ran to safety and the driver shot himself, said police, who added that the man was pronounced dead at 3:56 a.m.
Hamilton's mother, Robin, later released a statement:
"We are not commenting on the case at this time as it is under investigation. We would like to express our deep gratitude and sincere thanks for the efforts of all law enforcement and security agencies who aided in the process which culminated in our daughter’s safe return. We would also like to especially thank the officers and detectives of the Lakeland Police Department for their immediate response, steady determination, and exemplary manner in which they handled this matter."
I-95 southbound was closed in the area for hours.
A police investigation is ongoing.
Local 6 has learned Hamilton asked twice for a domestic injunction to be filed against her ex-boyfriend and they were due in court on Tuesday to talk about one of them.
"I'm at the Lakeland Mall and we came to pick up a friend of mine and she has to go to court tomorrow for an injunction against her ex-boyfriend and she is missing. Her bags are here at the backdoor and she is gone," a friend reported to authorities.
In the most recent request, Hamilton wrote that Curtis threatened her life, saying "you're a dead woman." A judge granted the temporary injunction and they were to talk about it in court on Tuesday.
Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.