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Standoff at road block ends when suspect shoots himself in chin

A 51-year-old Calhoun County man is facing a long list of charges after he allegedly threatened to shoot his estranged wife and led deputies on a chase at speeds of over 100 mph and then turned the gun on himself, resulting in a non-fatal wound when he fired a bullet into his chin, according to a report from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Hours after getting the initial call June 26 about a disturbance at a residence on H.A. Varnum Road, deputies caught up with Randall Pitts on Boneyard Road off CR 69, just inside Jackson County. He was sitting in the driver’s seat of his black Pontiac Sunfire, which was parked in the middle of the road.

When a deputy, using a loud speaker, urged him to resolve the situation without anyone being hurt, Pitts replied: “Just let me die in peace.”

Moments later, Pitts sped off, going eastbound on Boneyard Road. After driving about a mile, he came to a roadblock set up by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Pitts stopped in the middle of the road. Deputies drew their guns and took cover.

Pitts ignored deputies as they repeatedly attempted to talk him into peacefully resolving the standoff. Still inside the car, Pitts pointed his handgun to his chin and fired one shot. He then opened the car door, threw the gun to the side and began to crawl out. Deputies moved moved in and secured the weapon.

Calhoun County Deputy Jody Hoagland gave first aid to Pitts while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. According to Hoagland’s report, the bullet appeared to have entered the lower area of his chin and traveled up and to the left before exiting his jaw, according to Hoagland’s report. Jackson Fire & Rescue members arrived and assisted the injured man, who afterwards was transported to an emergency helicopter and flown to Bay Medical Center in Panama City.

As of July 2, Pitts remains hospitalized and is expected to undergo reconstructive surgery.

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The day’s events began with a call for help at 7:02 a.m. from Pitts’ estranged wife. She told deputies that her husband - who had been living with his mother for the past month - barged in her front door, holding a chrome handgun. She said he shoved her to the floor, held her head down and felt something pressed against the back of her head. She said he threatened her, stating: “Shut up. I’ll blow your brains out. You got one over on me. I’m going to get one over on you!”

He wanted her keys and her cell phone, she said, explaining that he was angry that she had changed her cell phone number two days earlier. He left before deputies arrived but later spoke to them after calling his wife from her cell phone.

Hoagland took the phone and told Pitts he wanted to hear his side of the story. Pitts did not respond. After a 30-second pause, Pitts hung up.

Pitts responded a few minutes later to a text message sent by Lt. Adam Terry, calling him to tell him he was “out of here now.” Terry said Pitts was very upset and crying.

Terry continued to maintain contact with Pitts via text. Around 11 a.m., he learned that Pitts planned to shoot himself. After “pinging” the cell phone he was using, Pitts’ location was determined to be in the area of Land Store on CR 286 just inside Jackson County. A second location check indicated Pitts was south of Ocheesee Landing boat ramp on a dirt road.

Deputies responded to the scene and found his car backed into the woods on the west side of the road. Pitts was sitting in the driver’s seat. As they approached, Pitts sped off. Deputies then pursued him as he fled southbound on Ocheesee Landing Road and then northbound on CR 286, with speeds topping 100 mph. Pitts then headed to Boneyard Road, where he stopped for a short time as deputies from two counties responded to the scene. He fled once more before coming to a roadblock, where he stopped and then turned the gun on himself.

The charges pending against him include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary with battery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony fleeing and eluding, habitual driving while license suspended or revoked and violation of state probation.

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