The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office released the identity of a man who took a woman hostage, led police on a high-speed chase, and eventually committed suicide.
A spokesperson announced the man as 47-year-old Keith Lowrey Townsend, a career criminal who had racked up two decades’ worth of charges, ranging from drug possession to misdemeanor theft.
Earlier this week, Townsend reportedly stole a U-Haul moving van when an officer with the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office spotted the vehicle. When the officer tried to get the van to pull over, Townsend increased his speed. The constable’s officer called in units from the Houston Police Department. The chase went on for nearly half an hour until the van blew a tire near Interstate 45 and Crosstimbers Road.
Townsend was traveling with a woman with whom he was acquainted and took her hostage during the chase. When the van stopped, Townsend took his hostage and escaped on foot, firing at pursuing officers. He and his hostage were later found in a car parked in a nearby neighborhood.
Members of the HPD Hostage Negotiation Team arrived on the scene and negotiated the release of the hostage. When officers took the hostage to safety, members of the SWAT team fired a tear gas canister into the vehicle. Shortly after the tear gas filled the vehicle, officers heard a gunshot from inside the vehicle.
After the gas cleared, officers found Townsend in the vehicle’s front seat with a gunshot wound to the head. They rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.
Townsend was reportedly homeless and dealing with a drug addiction at the time of the incident. His lengthy arrest record included charges in Harris County for making a terroristic threat in 2015 and misdemeanor theft of three bicycles in 2016, as well as charges in Williamson County of possession of a controlled substance in 2008 and 2014.