“I’ve been doing this for 37 years in Harris, Beaumont and Live Oak counties, and this was one of the top five nasty pursuits I’ve been on,” Live Oak County Sheriff’s Department Deputy John Calaway said. “I was driving 140 (mph), and he was walking away from me.”
A convicted felon with two guns, Edward Benjamin Bentley, 46, of San Antonio, allegedly stole a Mercedes C300 at gunpoint at a gas station in San Antonio on Friday morning, then drove south through Jourdanton before taking Highway 72 into Three Rivers.
“He said he got into an argument in San Antonio and got scared of the people he got into the argument with. He thought they were going to get him, so he stole a car to attempt to flee San Antonio,” Davis said. “He did not say where he was going.”
Three Rivers Police Department Officer Albert Carrion attempted to stop Bentley for an unsafe passing traffic violation near the Rialto Theater in Three Rivers, according to TRPD Sgt. Clint Davis.
A 70 mph chase through Three Rivers and out Highway 72 toward Interstate 37 followed. Carrion hit his lights in an attempt to pull the stolen vehicle over. Davis said that, once they hit the city limits, the chase had accelerated to 100 mph.
As the chase continued down the road, more responders followed behind including TRPD Chief Vance Roberts, Capt. JR Rodriguez, Live Oak County Sheriff Department’s Charlie Stroleny, Davis, Carrion and an “entourage of law enforcement,” according to Davis.
Once on the interstate, chase accelerated to 140 mph all the way to mile marker 20, according to Davis.
Calaway joined the chase at Haley Ranch Road on the south end of the county.
“He passed me at about 115-118 mph, and I came behind him, and the chase is on, and I’m basically calling out the pursuit, and we reached speeds of 140 mph or more,” Calaway said. “As we’re going through Mathis, he’s passing cars on the shoulder, the inside and outside shoulders and driving extremely erratic.”
Spikes were deployed at mile marker 26, and one of Bentley’s tires blew off about two-and-a-half miles later. The final five miles of the chase were at 115 mph on one of the rims.
“He just continued on; he was driving crazy, but he was able to maintain control of the vehicle,” Calaway said.
Bentley exited the interstate at mile marker 20, then went into a rest area at about 80 mph, according to Calaway.
Once inside the rest area, he pulled a U-turn and went straight toward the officers who were once behind him.
“He came head on with all of us,” Davis said.
Calaway said Deputy Sheriff Bill Ainsworth fired one shot from his car into the upper left hand corner of Bentley’s windshield as he drove past.
“Bill (Ainsworth) took evasive action and shot one round because we needed to get him off the interstate before he killed someone,” Calaway said.
About five seconds later, Bentley had a head-on collision with Texas State Trooper Sgt. Lorberau from the Sinton area, after swerving past Davis and Calaway at about 30 mph. Davis said the trooper was uninjured. Bentley was sent to Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi.
Two firearms were found inside the car, a .40 Smith and Wesson pistol and a Glock 9 Ruger. Davis said Bentley is already a convicted felon with three previous arrests for manufactured delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle.
Davis said charges are pending, but Bentley is wanted for armed robbery in San Antonio, aggravated assault on a public servant from Live Oak County Sheriff’s Department, evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle from TRPD and aggravated assault on a public servant from highway patrol.