Published Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 | 8:38 a.m.
Updated Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 | 4:30 p.m.
MUSTANG — Sheriff's deputies were trying to determine on Tuesday how a man was able to steal a Nevada Highway Patrol cruiser before carjacking another vehicle in Northern Nevada then shooting himself dead with the trooper's shotgun.
The bizarre chain of events began when a trooper pulled over a 2013 Ford Explorer about 4 p.m. Monday on Interstate 80 in Mustang, not far from Sparks, according to NHP officials. During the stop, one of the four people inside got out of the SUV and jumped in the cruiser.
"It was a very bold act," NHP trooper Chuck Allen said Tuesday.
Other law enforcement officials started chasing the stolen vehicle, and eventually disabled it by shooting out the tires, NHP officials said.
But when the suspect left the patrol vehicle, he took the trooper's shotgun and carjacked a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix, troopers said. The driver of the Pontiac wasn't harmed.
The suspect then took off in the Pontiac, attempted to pass a semitrailer and crashed the vehicle, according to NHP.
Authorities said the man got out of the wrecked vehicle and started shooting the trooper's gun in the air before shooting himself several times in the roadway, NHP said.
The suspect died at the scene.
NHP and sheriff's investigators provided no information on the exact length or duration of the chase or location of responding officers at the time the shots were fired.
Authorities also have not yet identified the man, or a female passenger in the Explorer. They identified two other people in the SUV as Manuel Alejandro Rodriguez, 29, and Christian M. Magllano Alzpurua, 23, both of Jacksonville, Fla.
Both men have been booked in the Washoe County Detention Center on suspicion of selling a controlled substance, possessing a controlled substance for sale and conspiracy to violate a uniform controlled substance act. Bail has been set at $150,000 for each man.
Allen said the investigation has been handed over to the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. He referred questions to the sheriff's office, which didn't immediately respond to requests for additional information.
"We are trained for a lot of things. A lot of scenarios come our way," Allen told KRNV-TV.
"But you don't expect a person to either open a car door and run to your vehicle and get in, or to distract you" so someone else can do that," he said.
Details were sketchy on what exactly transpired that allowed the victim to move from the SUV to the patrol cruiser.
"There is nothing that I can tell you at this time regarding the incident," Trooper Barb Stapleton, NHP's public affairs coordinator, said in an email to AP late Tuesday.