PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities still haven’t released the identity of a man who fatally shot himself in the head on live national television at the end of a high-speed carjacking chase that began in Phoenix and ended close to the California border.
Fox News was covering the chase that began about midday Friday using a live helicopter shot from Phoenix affiliate KSAZ-TV. The man driving a copper-colored four-door sedan stopped, ran into the desert and placed a handgun to his head and fired.
The man was declared dead at the scene, according to Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith told viewers that the video was supposed to be on a 10-second delay so it could be cut off from airing if something went awry.
“We really messed up, and we’re all very sorry,” Smith said.
Fox apologized for showing the violence on air.
“We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay,” said Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news editorial. “Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.”
More frequently than its rivals, Fox News Channel picks up car chases from its local affiliates and airs them live. It’s gripping television, a live mystery with no clear resolution, and often provides a short-term ratings boost as viewers tune in to see how it ends. Critics say the chases themselves rarely rise to the level of national news. The Phoenix station was not airing the chase live when it ended.
Thompson said the man allegedly stole a car from a couple at gunpoint outside a Phoenix restaurant just before 11 a.m. MST.
Police officers located the vehicle and began a pursuit and the man fired several shots, Thompson said. He said at least one shot hit the police vehicle but the officers escaped injury.
The suspect headed west on Interstate 10, then pulled onto a dirt road near the town of Tonopah that Thompson said was “70 to 80 miles east of the California line.”
TV footage showed the man exiting the vehicle and running erratically in a field before putting the gun to his head and firing. He then fell to the ground.
“Efforts to revive him were not successful and he was dead at the scene,” Thompson said. “We don’t have an ID yet.”
Fox returned repeatedly to shots showing the car passing big-rig trucks that typically travel at about 70 mph as if they were standing still.
Police cars did not appear to be immediately behind the car during most of the chase.
Smith was narrating the video and clearly had his doubts about what was being shown from the moment the man stopped the car. “This scares me,” he said.
“You wait for the end of these things and you worry about how they may end up,” he said. “This makes me a little nervous, I got to tell you. A little nervous.”
After the man shot himself, Fox’s picture quickly cut to Smith, who was shouting “get off, get off, get off, get off.”
Smith apologized repeatedly following the commercial break.
“That didn’t belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV and I personally apologize to you that that happened,” he said.
AP television writer David Bauder reported from New York. Associated Press writer Walter Berry in Phoenix also contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- UK emergency committee convenes after attack
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11