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Authorities release name of Ontario man killed after high-speed chase, shooting

Officials say the driver was taken to Saint Alphonsus in Ontario, where he was pronounced dead.

ONTARIO, Ore. — Authorities say a driver who led officers on a high-speed chase across the Idaho-Oregon state line died after he was involved in a shooting with police.

Malheur County District Attorney David Goldthorpe identified the man who died as 25-year-old Victor J. Morales Zavala of Ontario. 

The chase began in Idaho after someone reported a yellow Dodge pickup driving erratically at high speeds on Interstate 84 in the Caldwell area. Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said Idaho State Police troopers tried to pull the driver over, but he refused to yield and crashed into multiple vehicles as he tried to escape.

Troopers called off their pursuit for a time until Canyon County sheriff's deputies spotted the driver heading westbound on I-84. The pursuit involved multiple agencies and went west on I-84 before ending on East Idaho Avenue near West Oregon Street in Ontario.

Goldhorpe said Ontario Police deployed spike strips at the Oregon-Idaho line, successfully puncturing all four of the Dodge's tires. Morales Zavala kept driving on the blown tires, but could not drive as fast, he said. 

As officers from multiple agencies continued to chase him, Morales Zavala ultimately stopped the pickup on Idaho Avenue just west of a railroad underpass.

Goldthorpe said the suspect got out of the car with a gun, at one point holding the firearm to his own head. Authorities say shots were fired at 4:51 p.m., although it is not clear whether Morales Zavala shot himself or was killed by troopers.

Two Oregon State Police troopers were the closest units to the suspect when he was shot. No law enforcement officers were injured in the chase or shooting, Wolfe said.

Goldthorpe told KTVB that a handgun was found at the scene near the suspect. The truck he was driving was later determined to be stolen. 

East Idaho Avenue was closed for nearly five hours while police investigated, but reopened 9:48 p.m.

The Malheur County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation into the shooting because Oregon State Police troopers were involved in the incident. Investigators will also review dash camera footage of the shooting. 

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