A 28-year-old Pasco man died early Monday after a high-speed chase with sheriff’s deputies in rural Franklin County ended in a crash in an orchard.
Dante Redmond Jones died in the ambulance on his way to a Tri-City hospital.
While Sheriff Jim Raymond could not confirm if Jones had been shot, deputies at the scene told emergency dispatchers that he had “multiple gunshot wounds.”
Raymond could only say that one of his deputies reported shots being fired after Jones’ car briefly stopped in the middle of foggy Highway 170, between Mathews Corner and Basin City.
The sheriff — who is letting the Tri-City Special Investigations Unit determine exactly what happened — said he did not know if Jones or any of his three involved deputies fired a gun.
However, two Franklin County sheriff’s news releases Monday called the incident a deputy-involved shooting.
“The attempted stopping of the vehicle has culminated in deputies being involved in a shooting with the occupant of this vehicle,” said the initial statement from Raymond.
Reports of prowler
The deputies initially responded to a suspicious vehicle prowling at a farm at 3:14 a.m. when they noticed a car speeding.
They then pursued Jones’ car, not knowing if he was the suspected prowler or why he was driving at such an excessive speed at the time, said Raymond.
Jones reportedly refused to stop his car and tried to hit deputies during the chase.
When his car abruptly drove off the road near Sagehill and Wahluke roads, at least one sheriff’s patrol vehicle followed Jones into the middle of a field, where they collided.
The deputies gave first aid to Jones until paramedics arrived.
Franklin County Sgt. Gordon Thomasson and Deputies Andrew Gardner and Cody Quantrell all received minor injuries.
Raymond, in a news conference Monday afternoon, described the incident as “sketchy” at this point until more facts come out to give a “clear and concise picture.”
“It was a short period of time. As you can imagine, it’s going to be chaotic, it’s going to be confusing,” he said. “Everything that’s taken place, it takes a little bit … to get it sorted out.”
The sheriff said it will take a while for the information to develop and asked people to let the Special Investigations Unit team do its job.
“Be patient. It’s going to be ever-changing over the next 48 hours and you’re going to hear lots of rumors, lots of things out there,” he said. “Rest assured there is a ton of people up there conducting the investigation and gathering the information to provide clarity to it all.”
Raymond said his employees wanted “their names to be released so there is no trying to figure out who they are.”
He described their injuries as cuts and scrapes, and said they were checked out at a hospital before being cleared to go home.
The three will be on paid administrative leave until the details of the chase and shooting are sorted out.
An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday with Dr. Sig Menchel, a forensic pathologist from Bellevue, to determine what killed Jones, said Franklin County Coroner Curtis McGary.
He notified Jones’ family Monday before releasing the name.
Franklin County chase
Raymond was asked Monday why three deputies responded to an alleged vehicle prowler. He said it’s likely they all were patrolling the north county area when the call came in and they decided to go together.
The deputies had given up searching for that possible suspect when they saw the car speeding.
Emergency dispatch traffic shows Jones wasn’t stopping and “trying to brake check” patrol cars as the chase reached speeds of 80 mph on Sagehill Road.
“He’s driving recklessly. He pretty much slowed down to highway speed,” one deputy said during the incident, according to streaming audio of the response on Broadcastify. “He’s stopping in the road now at this point.”
A deputy relayed that the suspect vehicle tried to hit his patrol car.
“Be advised he’s trying to hit us at this point,” a deputy told dispatchers.
“Shots fired. Suspect been hit. He still is continuing northbound,” said a deputy.
The chase ended along Sagehill, with deputies saying “suspect down” and paramedics needed.
“One detained. He has got multiple gunshot wounds,” deputies said, adding they didn’t believe there were any other people in the car.
A Connell police officer and several sheriff’s deputies from Adams County assisted at the multiple crime scenes until detectives were able to respond.
Capt. Jeff Taylor with the Richland Police Department is in charge of the Special Investigations Unit investigation. That is independent of the Sheriff’s Office’s internal investigation.
Raymond said the involved deputies were put in contact with their union representative, but had not been interviewed as of Monday afternoon.
He released the following details on them:
- Thomasson has been a member of the Sheriff’s Office since 2004 and worked as a deputy and corporal. Currently a sergeant, he supervises a group of patrol deputies.
- Gardner has been with the office since 2015. In that time, he’s worked as a corrections deputy and patrol deputy, and currently is a Sheriff’s Office training instructor and member of the Tri-City Regional SWAT Team.
- Quantrell joined the department in 2018 after transferring from a Lower Valley agency. He is assigned to patrol.