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A Mississippi man wanted on suspicion of murder was arrested Wednesday in Kansas after he allegedly robbed and shot a gas station clerk and then led police on a chase in the stolen car that ended in a fiery crash, authorities said.
Alex Deaton, 28, was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after he was accused of killing his girlfriend and shooting a jogger at random in Mississippi last week. He also carjacked a couple in New Mexico on Tuesday during a multi-state crime spree, police said.
"He's led us on quite the chase these last few days, and everybody here is very happy that he's in custody," Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said.
Early Wednesday, the Kiowa County, Kansas, Sheriff's Department started chasing Deaton in a stolen Honda Accord, and after police used spike sticks to disable that car, Deaton fled into a convenience store, where he robbed and shot the clerk, police said.
He then fled in the clerk's Cadillac, leading state troopers on a high-speed chase on Interstate 70 before troopers used spike sticks and a vehicle to stop Deaton, who crashed the car, the Kansas Highway Patrol said. The vehicle caught fire, and Deaton was arrested without incident, the Highway Patrol said.
"This guy apparently didn't care who he had to kill or what he had to do," Rankin County, Mississippi, Sheriff Bryan Bailey said. "I don't know what his end goal was."
Authorities believe Deaton strangled his girlfriend, Heather Robinson, 30, whose body was found in apartment on Friday, because she wanted to break up with him.
"He wasn't going to let her go, and I think he went into a fit of rage," Bailey said. "I believe he killed her first, and after that everything went downhill."
Deaton is suspected in two deaths and in the shootings of four people over the course of the three-state crime spree. He is also a suspect in the killing of a 69-year-old woman found shot to death in her church Neshoba County.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol said Deaton randomly shot a jogger from his vehicle Friday northeast of Jackson. During the carjacking Tuesday in New Mexico, Deaton shot a man in the buttocks, and a woman was grazed by a bullet as the couple struggled to escape, Bailey said.
The store clerk who was shot in Kansas on Wednesday was airlifted by helicopter to a Wichita hospital, Pratt, Kansas, police said.
"I understand the troopers did some pretty heroic tactical moves to get the man stopped," Fisher said.
The last contact anyone is known to have had with Deaton was in the form of texts he sent his mother Friday and Saturday morning, which Bailey described as "jumbled" and unintelligible.
Robinson's family recalled the young woman in a statement Wednesday as a hard-working and dedicated woman who had a nursing degree and worked in the medical field.
"Our lives are forever changed and words cannot express our pain and sorrow," the family said, NBC affiliate WLBT of Jackson reported.
"We would like to thank all the law enforcement for the efforts in working to bring this to an end," said the family, who and asked for privacy.