The six-day ordeal that began when a Baltimore area man abducted his estranged wife from a city bus stop ended in death when the 24-year-old suspect apparently shot himself in the head after a high-speed chase and shootout with police in North Carolina.
Wade Morris Lucas Jr. apparently turned a 9mm pistol on himself yesterday morning after the car he stole spun off a state highway near Belmont, between Gastonia and Charlotte. Three Georgia men he had kidnapped were rescued, an FBI spokesman said.
"Apparently, Lucas put the gun up to his head and fired a single shot and killed himself," said Jim Dearborn, a spokesman for the Baltimore FBI office.
An autopsy is scheduled to determine the exact cause of death, police in North Carolina said.
Authorities had been searching for Lucas since his wife, Tara McEntyre, 22, of the 2200 block of Braddish Ave., was abducted in Baltimore last Tuesday. He shot her in the hip Friday when she escaped from him outside the Waffle House, a restaurant in Greensboro, Ga.
The day before, authorities got a break in the case when McEntyre left her city state's attorney employee identification card in the restroom of a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station. On a mirror, she had written in lipstick: "Help me. Call Baltimore 911."
After McEntyre escaped, authorities conducted a massive but fruitless search. During the search, FBI agents and Georgia police and sheriff's deputies used dogs and a helicopter to try to find Lucas, of the 1900 block of Woodlawn Drive in Baltimore County.
Until yesterday's shootout with police, the FBI had suspended its search for Lucas until a solid lead surfaced.
About 4 a.m. yesterday, Lucas took three men in their 20s as hostages near Greensboro, Ga., and forced them to accompany him in their car on his trip north. The men were returning from a weekend trip to Memphis, Tenn., and were taken hostage outside their home near Greensboro, police said. The house was 10 miles away from the Waffle House.
The four left in a white 1990 Mercury Cougar, with Lucas sitting in the back seat, police said.
About two hours later in Suwanee, Ga., the Cougar pulled into an Exxon gas station on Interstate 85, police said. When one hostage went to get a soft drink, he told the attendant that he and the two others had been kidnapped, police said.
The attendant notified police. "We immediately called the FBI," said Suwanee Police Chief William R. Lewis.
Authorities were able to get a description of the Cougar and broadcast it in a tri-state area.
About 9:30 a.m. in Belmont, officers of the North Carolina Highway Patrol spotted the northbound Cougar.
Authorities chased the car, with speeds exceeding the posted 65-mph speed limit, authorities said. "Shots were being fired back and forth . . . even from the sunroof," Dearborn said.
The car ran off the road near downtown Belmont. Lucas got out of the car and apparently shot himself, Dearborn said.
He died at the scene and police recovered a 9mm semiautomatic handgun. The hostages were not wounded during the gunfire, but one of them received bruises when the car ran off the road, authorities said.
Attempts to reach both the Lucas and McEntyre families yesterday were unsuccessful.
Police are not sure if Lucas' body would be returned to Baltimore. "It's pretty hard to say," Dearborn said. "That's pretty good speculation."
During McEntyre's disappearance, authorities worked hard to find her.
"Everybody worried about her and her whereabouts and rightly so," Dearborn said. "When she tried to escape, he shot her while she was getting into a police car."
McEntyre was admitted to a Georgia hospital with a hip wound and released Saturday.