A Woodlawn man who was wanted for the kidnapping of his estranged wife apparently killed himself yesterday after taking three men hostage in Georgia and trading gunfire with North Carolina police during a high-speed chase.
Wade Morris Lucas, Jr., 24, who abducted Tara McEntyre from Baltimore last week and shot her in the hip when she tried to escape Friday in Greensboro, Ga., apparently shot himself in the head as he was about to be captured in a field in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in Belmont, N.C.
Mr. Lucas, an unemployed construction worker, was reportedly forcing his hostages to drive him back to Baltimore after eluding a massive manhunt over the weekend. More than 100 law enforcement officers with bloodhounds and helicopters combed the woods around Greensboro for Mr. Lucas without turning up a trace.
They had already abandoned the search when Mr. Lucas emerged from the woods yesterday morning about seven miles away from the focus of the manhunt. About 4 a.m., he confronted three men at gunpoint as they were getting into a white Mercury Cougar at the home of Michael Jeffrey Cooke.
Mr. Cooke and two other men, Timothy Bullock and Jonathan Warren, were forced to accompany him as they headed west on Interstate 85 toward Atlanta and then north toward Baltimore, said Jim Dearborn, an FBI spokesman.
At 6:15 a.m., the car stopped at a service station in Suwanee, Ga., just north of Atlanta, where the hostages were allowed to leave the car to get something to drink, Mr. Dearborn said.
One of the men told a service station attendant that they had been abducted by the man who had shot Ms. McEntyre in Georgia, he said. After they left the station, the attendant called police, providing them with a description of the car.
Two North Carolina highway patrol officers, First Sgt. William G. George and Trooper L. W. Morrow, caught up with the car at 9:17 a.m. as it headed north on I-85 from South Carolina into North Carolina. As they chased the fugitive in separate cars, Mr. Lucas stood through the sunroof of the Cougar and started shooting at the pursuing troopers.
An undetermined number of shots were exchanged during the high speed chase that continued for about 38 miles, the spokesman said. When the car reached the exit for Belmont, the driver -- believed to be Mr. Bullock -- turned off and headed south on Route 273.
Police said that the car ran off the road into a field and came to a halt. One of the troopers then rammed his patrol car into the side of the Cougar to immobilize it, said Graham H. Wilson, a spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
There was another exchange of shots before Mr. Lucas grabbed one of his captives by the neck and pointed a gun at him. Mr. Lucas then placed the revolver to his own head and pulled the trigger, Mr. Wilson said.
Two of the three hostages jumped from the car and hit the ground. The third, who had been driving, remained at the wheel when the police approached the car, according to witnesses. The police, uncertain if the man was an accomplice, struck him in the face.
No one else was injured during the confrontation.
Baltimore police said Mr. Lucas had been infatuated with Ms. McEntyre, 22, a clerk for the Baltimore state's attorney's office, since they were in high school. They married in January and moved to a second floor apartment at the Clark Manor Apartments in the 1900 block of Woodlawn Drive in Woodlawn.
Although some neighbors described him as polite, friendly and "a regular guy," at least one, Howard C. Hanrahan, said he could hear Mr. Lucas beating his wife in the apartment upstairs. He grew so angry with the domestic violence that he took his rifle and went to the apartment to demand that Mr. Lucas stop beating Ms. McEntyre.
"She was crying, screaming and yelling so bad I just got disgusted with it," said Mr. Hanrahan, who lived in the apartment below them. "The next day she came down and thanked me."
About four or five weeks ago, Ms. McEntyre obtained a restraining order against her husband because of the violence, the police said. But on Tuesday, she was walking to a subway station in the 2500 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway when Mr. Lucas apparently forced her into the car at gunpoint and headed south.
The first hint of where Mr. Lucas drove came on Thursday, when Ms. McEntyre managed to leave an identification card in a restaurant restroom in Jacksonville, Fla. She also scrawled a message on the mirror in lipstick requesting help.
On Friday morning, Ms. McEntyre ran into the Waffle House in Greensboro, Ga., and asked employees to call police.
When sheriff's deputies arrived she ran outside and jumped into the patrol car, unaware that Mr. Lucas was waiting for her to leave the building. Police said he fired a couple of shots, one of which went through a window of the patrol car and struck Ms. McEntyre in the left hip.
The deputy sheriff drove off with the wounded woman.
Ms. McEntyre returned to Baltimore over the weekend after being treated for the gunshot wound at a Georgia hospital. She and her family refused to discuss the kidnapping or Mr. Lucas' death.