Midlands chase ends in gunfire, arrests

(Source: Jody Barr)
(Source: Jody Barr)
By Jody Barr - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A State Law Enforcement Division search for a murder suspect Tuesday turned into a two-county police chase on Interstate 77. The chase ended in Columbia where investigators said the suspects tried to run over a Richland County deputy, who fired his handgun into the suspect's car.

The chase started in Fairfield County where SLED's fugitive team was hunting for Charles Ruff, a man wanted in a December 20, 2010 murder at the Bethel Bishop apartments on West Beltline Boulevard. Agents spotted a stolen car out of Richland County, and then radioed Fairfield County deputies to stop the car, according to Richland County Sheriff's Captain Chris Cowan. The two men inside took off.

The chase stretched more than 30 miles along Interstate 77 and ended at the Columbia Gardens apartments on Plowden Road inside Columbia city limits. SLED sent up two helicopters to assist in the chase and several Richland County deputies tried to deploy spike strips along the chase route.

The suspects drove behind the complex, according to Cowan.  "Our deputies get out of their vehicles to go in behind the complex. At that point, the suspects attempt to run over one of our deputies," said Cowan. "At that point, the deputy discharges his firearm into the vehicle, stopping the vehicle from running him over."

Deputies arrested the pair within a few feet of the getaway car. One of the suspects is Tyrone Ruff. A woman said she was on the phone with Ruff during the chase, "I told him to stop. He was worried about not having a driver's license, but I told him I could bond him out over a driver's license but I couldn't help him with a chase." Ruff is also Columbia murder suspect Charles Ruff's brother.

Investigators plan to charge Ruff and the unidentified passenger with attempted murder, possession of a stolen vehicle, and failure to stop for a blue light, according to Cowan. Both men are in custody and undergoing interviews with investigators. Charges, as of this report, have not been filed.

There were no injuries associated with the chase, Cowan said.

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