updated 10/3/2006 7:02:50 PM ET 2006-10-03T23:02:50

A man suspected of being tied to a string of deadly crimes along the East Coast in which three people died has been killed by Florida officers, authorities said.

The man crashed a vehicle after a high-speed chase late Monday, then drove toward officers holding a gun, said Chuck Mulligan, a St. Johns County sheriff’s spokesman.

Several sheriff’s deputies from St. Johns and Flagler counties opened fire, killing the man, Mulligan said.

Authorities were awaiting an autopsy before positively identifying him, but on the basis of his description and the car’s license places they believe he was William T. Ashby, 37, of Savannah, Ga., Mulligan said.

“From all indications, this is the individual,” Mulligan said.

The FBI had issued an arrest warrant for Ashby on Monday, saying he was suspected in a series of crimes from Virginia to Florida, including the death of University of Virginia graduate student Elizabeth Hafter, 22, who was found in Waynesboro, Va., near a car Ashby is believed to have stolen in Effingham County, Ga.

A convenience store clerk was shot before the car was stolen and remains hospitalized, authorities said.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said evidence placed Ashby near a store in Cumberland Gap, Tenn., at the time of the Sept. 28 slayings of two store employees.

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