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Man killed in Putnam County police chase

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- A man was killed in a collision Thursday morning during a short high-speed chase on Interstate 64 after he allegedly tried to shoplift from the Walmart store in Hurricane.

Jan Dennis "J.D." Perry, 44, of Clarksburg, was pronounced dead at the scene, Hurricane police Detective Larry Angell said.

Police saw Perry flee after the attempted theft and gave chase, said Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards, who went to the scene of the collision.

Perry, driving a Chevrolet Malibu, got on the interstate and headed east, according to Edwards.

The ensuing chase lasted only a few minutes as Perry reached speeds of 100 mph, Edwards said. Perry apparently tried to take the exit into a rest area on I-64, but his car skidded sideways and slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer, Edwards said.

The incident occurred at about 11:30 a.m., he said, and it took firefighters more than an hour to extract Perry's body from the wreckage.

Numerous police booking photos of Perry have been taken over the years. According to news reports, he has a lengthy criminal history that includes armed robbery.

Putnam Sheriff Mark Smith, whose agency is investigating the incident, said Perry was attempting to steal a television from Walmart, but abandoned the merchandise and ran after police pulled into the store parking lot.

Walmart employees called Hurricane police, according to a Putnam County 911 dispatcher.

Smith said police are faced with a catch-22 over whether to chase a fleeing suspect.

"You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't," he said.

Officers are instructed to consider the traffic and weather before giving chase and to call another officer for advice before pursuing a suspect, Smith said.

During Thursday's chase, though, police didn't have time to follow protocol, he said.

"The chase only lasted one or two minutes," Smith said. "And [officers] didn't follow him into the rest area. They stayed on the highway, knowing they were going too fast to make the turn."

The speed limit into the rest area is 25 mph.

Perry's family in Clarksburg wouldn't comment on the incident when reached by phone Thursday evening, although his father, Luther, said police called him at about noon to tell him of his son's death.

"We're just not doing good," Luther Perry said of his family's reaction to the news.

Before abruptly hanging up, Perry said his son was staying temporarily in Huntington, was divorced and had no children.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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