MONROE, Ga. — A man died by apparent suicide after a police chase ended in a crash Tuesday night.
The ensuing investigation closed Gratis Road, and the road is expected to be closed into the overnight hours early Wednesday.
Sheriff Joe Chapman said law enforcement were alerted to look for a man who’d been involved in an argument with his girlfriend in Barrow County.
The man wasn’t wanted for a crime, Chapman said, but out of concern for his own safety.
Chapman said Monroe police found the vehicle in Mathews Park on East Marable Street. The man apparently fled the scene and Monroe officers pursued him, eventually performing a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, maneuver designed to end the chase.
“They really just wanted to check on his welfare, and then he took off and (police) gave chase,” Chapman said.
The car came to a stop at the Walton Electric Membership Corp. solar power facility bordered by Gratis, William “Cap” Jackson and Ike Stone roads, a little over 2 miles north of Mathews Park.
Chapman said the officers didn’t detect any movement from the vehicle and contacted the Sheriff’s Office, which sent its SWAT team and activated a drone to look in the windows of the vehicle.
It was determined the driver had a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Capt. Matt McClung of Monroe police said his department had “reasonable suspicion” to pursue the man and said the fact he drove away from officers constituted a fleeing charge.
“We were simply trying to do a welfare check and get him any aid that he needed,” McClung said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will look into the death, while the Georgia State Patrol will investigate the pursuit.
McClung said he’s confident in the way both agencies on scene handled the case.
“The Sheriff’s Office did a phenomenal job on their end — they did everything well. I was proud of them,” he said.
“I think the officers handled it perfect. I wish it hadn’t ended the way it did, but I don’t know that we could have done anything better on our end.”
McClung said no officers were hurt in the pursuit, and no government vehicles were damaged.
Chapman late Tuesday night said Gratis Road wouldn’t reopen until the GBI processes the scene.