A 19-year-old store clerk in Kansas who was shot by a murder suspect on the run from authorities Wednesday said he’s lucky to be alive.
Alex Deaton, who police suspect in two murders and two other shootings, shot Riley Juel at point-blank range after taking his car keys hours before his alleged crime spree would come to an end.
"This can’t be real at all, and then, I mean it came back to me, this is real," Juel told NBC affiliate KSNW in Wichita, a day after he was shot by suspect Alex Deaton in Pratt.
"I was just scared I was going to die," Juel told the station.
Deaton, 28, fled in Juel's Cadillac and was caught after a high-speed chase with the Kansas Highway Patrol that ended in a fiery crash, police said.
Deaton is suspected in the murder of his girlfriend, 30-year-old Heather Robinson, whose body was found at her Rankin County, Mississippi home on Friday. He is also suspected of being involved in the death of a woman found fatally shot at her Neshoba County church on Thursday.
Deaton had been chased by sheriff's deputies earlier Wednesday morning, but the stolen car he was driving was disabled by stop sticks and he entered the Kwik Shop and demanded Juel's keys, authorities said.
After Juel handed the keys over, he said Deaton shot him at point-blank range and fled. Juel called 911 and thanked the dispatcher and a police officer who arrived on the scene. "If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have been dead," he told the station.
Juel is stable at a hospital. Jule’s sister, Brooke Juel, told the KSNW her brother’s call to police helped catch the suspect, and called him a hero.
Deaton also allegedly shot a jogger at random from his vehicle in Mississippi on Friday, and carjacked and briefly kidnapped a couple at a trailhead near Albuquerque on Tuesday.
During the carjacking and kidnapping, Deaton shot a man in the buttocks and a bullet grazed a woman as they escaped, the Rankin County, Mississippi, sheriff’s office said.
Also Friday, Deaton’s family said in a statement that they are “in a state of disbelief” and are fully cooperating with law enforcement.
"Our family is deeply shocked, saddened and horrified at all that has unfolded since last Wednesday,” Deaton's family said in a statement to NBC affiliate WLBT in Jackson.
“We are devastated and completely heartbroken for all that has happened. Our family is in a state of disbelief. We don’t understand why or how this could ever happen and are just thankful it has now come to an end,” the statement said. The family expressed condolences to the victims and their families.
Rankin County, Mississippi, Sheriff Bryan Bailey says investigators hoped to talk to Deaton Thursday afternoon. Authorities are expected to seek extradition to Mississippi.