PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A man claiming to be a friend of Trevor Messenger says he was going through a rough time last night when Messenger dropped him off just after eight. Less than an hour later the 35-year-old Messenger was dead after leading state troopers on a high-speed chase on State Route 16 that ended in a crash and gunfire in Purdy.
“As soon as he hit the guardrail the cop was right behind him,” said Chris Prentin, who lives near the scene. “About two seconds later, it was like really quick, I heard a gunshot.”
State troopers pursued Messenger after he refused to stop as he was being pulled over for speeding. He drove at high speed on eastbound State Route 16 before getting off the highway onto a side road. Messenger crashed into a metal guardrail on a sharp curve, his truck tumbling down a steep incline. “We heard some sirens and it sounded like a chase and then all of the sudden there was a loud boom,” said Prentin’s neighbor Lance Kolbag.
According to a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department troopers heard a gunshot inside Messenger’s truck and returned fire. They called deputies to assist them. “Got together, went up to the vehicle to try to apprehend the suspect. He was unresponsive at that point and was later pronounced dead at the scene,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Darren Moss Jr.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office said an autopsy revealed Messenger died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A friend with him before the incident contacted KIRO 7 by email saying, “I could tell he was in a bad headspace, he was also very intoxicated. He was a great guy, very nice.” Law enforcement has not confirmed his account of Messenger’s last hours.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department will conduct the investigation into Messenger’s death.
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