ATLANTA – The three siblings accused of opening fire at a Florida officer and then robbing a bank in Georgia escaped police pursuit after shooting out the officer's tire at a convenience store parking lot, according to dash-cam video released Monday by Florida authorities.
"I can't go any farther," said Zephyrhills Police Officer Kevin Widner, who was forced to pull to the side of the road after chasing the white sedan. Authorities believe the car was carrying 21-year-old Ryan Edward Dougherty, 26-year-old Dylan Dougherty Stanley and 29-year-old Lee Grace Dougherty.
The nationwide manhunt for the three began Aug. 2 when Widner tried to pull the car over for speeding. After a 5-mile chase at speeds up to 100 mph, authorities say at least two people in the fleeing car squeezed off 20 or more gunshots at Widner, who wasn't injured and didn't return fire. His tire was struck at a CVS parking lot, but he still tried to follow the suspects until his patrol car couldn't keep up.
A few hours after the chase, three people wearing masks charged into the Certus Bank in Valdosta, Ga., about 210 miles north. One of the robbers brandished an AK-47 assault rifle while another was photographed by a security camera waving a machine pistol, the FBI said. The robbers fired shots into the ceiling, then fled with an undisclosed amount of money in a white sedan similar to the Subaru in the Florida chase.
Police have posted photos on electronic billboards across the Southeast of the three suspects, and Valdosta Police Cmdr. Brian Childress said he received several tips over the weekend, including calls saying the vehicle was spotted near Forsyth, Ga. and Chattanooga, Tenn.
"It's real simple. These folks are armed and dangerous. If you see them, don't approach them. Don't be obvious. Just pick up the phone and dial 911," he said, adding: "It sure seems like they have a death wish. We're just hoping they surrender and they do it peacefully so no one gets hurt."
Pasco County Sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said Monday that authorities also received a tip that one of the suspects had at one time lived at a home in Zephyrhills atop an underground bunker. He said narcotics investigators checked out the home and bunker — three large, steel cargo containers buried underground and wired for electricity — but found no drugs or sign of any of the three.
"The only connection is one of the Dougherty brothers did come up in a report as a person who possibly did live there at one point," said Tobin.
The siblings' mother, Barbara Bell, told the Associated Press on Friday she hoped the three would surrender without bloodshed.
"Although they've done some very bad things, no one has been physically injured yet. I would encourage my children to turn themselves in," she said in the interview.
Bluestein can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/bluestein . Associated Press Writer Russ Bynum in Savannah, Ga. contributed to this report.