Man leads police on four-county chase to Volant, kills himself

Police say a chase through four counties ended with the suspect's suicide on state Route 19 in Volant Tuesday morning (photo courtesy of KDKA).
Police say a chase through four counties ended with the suspect's suicide on state Route 19 in Volant Tuesday morning (photo courtesy of KDKA).


MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) – Pennsylvania State Police are investigating after man who they say killed himself led them on a search through four counties.

WKBN learned that the man is connected to two different house fires about 100 miles apart, and investigators are looking into a possible domestic assault involving the man.

At around 6 a.m. in Shaler Township, just outside of Pittsburgh, a neighbor called 911 to report the first fire.

Police released this photo of suspect William James, prior to a police chase through four counties, ending in a suicide in Mercer County.
Police released this photo of suspect William James, prior to a police chase through four counties, ending in a suicide in Mercer County.

That neighbor said a man and a woman lived in the home, but no one was inside during the fire. Police then got a tip that the woman who lives there showed up at a nearby hospital with injuries from a reported assault.

Police were looking for William James in connection with the fire and alleged assault.

About two hours later, another fire was reported outside of Meadville in Crawford County. The house was owned by William James or his family.

Pennsylvania State Police spotted James’ car in Mercer County later Tuesday morning and began chasing him down a field off of state Route 19 in Volant. Police used stop sticks to stop the vehicle, and when they approached his Subaru Legacy, they found that James had killed himself.

WKBN made several calls to Pennsylvania State Police to get more details on the investigation, but those calls were not returned. Shaler Township Police said the woman that James is suspected of assaulting was treated and released from the hospital.

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