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Accused drunk driver wanted officers to shoot him

By Staff | Aug 20, 2013

HUGHESVILLE – After taking a borough patrolman on a nine-mile high speed pursuit and crashing his pickup truck on Route 118, intoxicated 43-year-old Robert C. Steele climbed out of the wreckage and pleaded with the officer to shoot him.

“Shoot me. Shoot me,” Steele yelled as he purposely hid his hands from Patrolman David Williams following the crash that occurred about 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

Steele ignored Williams’ demands to “Show me your hands. Show me your hands,” court records state.

With his marriage crumbling, Steele, of 692 Muncy Exchange Road, Muncy, wanted to end his life by “committing suicide by cop,” Williams said.

The pursuit began on Route 405, about a mile south of the borough, after Steele allegedly tried to hit Williams’ stopped cruiser with his truck as the officer was getting out of the car during a routine vehicle stop, police said.

Williams pursued Steele north through the borough, but the driver ignored the officer and turned east on Route 118, where his pickup nearly struck another vehicle head-on.

In the area of Clarkstown Road, Steele, traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph, drove through a cornfield.

At one point, according to police, Steele dialed 911 on his cellphone and told a dispatcher that the officer chasing him was “going to have to shoot him,” police said.

As he neared Lairdsville, Steele lost control of his truck, which overturned several times, police said.

After crawling out of the vehicle and refusing to show Williams his hands, Steele started to run away from the officer, who twice used his Taser gun to stop the man. Steele fell to the ground and was quickly subdued.

Montoursville and state police assisted in the pursuit and in taking Steele into custody.

Police suspected Steele may have been drinking during the chase because they found an open can of beer inside his truck.

Steele, whose license already has been suspended for a drunk driving conviction, has been charged with aggravated assault while driving under the influence of intoxciants, fleeing police, resisting arrest, driving under the influence of intoxicants and speeding.

At his arraignment two hours later, Steele told District Judge Jerry C. Lepley that he was on probation for a conviction of fleeing police, and that he recently had been released from jail to have his appendix taken out. He also told Lepley that his wife had left him.

Steele was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail.