Burglary suspect driving stolen U-Haul hits, kills woman

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - What started as a break-in, turned into a deadly crime spree early Tuesday morning.

"[I] didn't know anything until I got here," JJ Brown said. "I hear that somebody got hurt. I really hope they're OK. They caught the guy, which is amazing, from there... it's just surreal."

According to Phoenix police, officers responded to a burglary call at Hookup Cellular near 31st Avenue and Thomas at around 2:30 a.m.

When they arrived on the scene, the suspect who had stolen a U-Haul truck, backed into a patrol car as he sped away.

The manager of the store, JJ Brown, says he saw the 39-year-old suspect on surveillance video.

"I think the guy was on drugs," he said. "He had a big wig and a fake beard, walking around kind of funny. He was under the influence of something."

After hitting the patrol car, officers say the suspect headed north on 31st Avenue, colliding with a tow truck that was hauling a semi-truck.

Unfortunately, the suspect didn't stop but continued on, striking 45-year-old Dawn Bestenlehner, who was waiting for her ride home.

"The pedestrian has been transported to the hospital where she is in extremely critical condition," Sgt. Vince Lewis said. "We're waiting on updates from the hospital and of course we're reaching out to her family and close friends and so forth."

Sadly, Dawn died from her injuries in the hospital a short while later.

Phoenix police say near the intersection of Grand and 31st Avenues is where the suspect's morning of chaos came to an end.

"The driver then bailed out of the truck and took off on foot," Sgt. Lewis said. "The officer was able to follow and take the suspect into custody after taser was deployed."

Because of the multiple crimes committed, police say the investigation will be extensive.

"There were numerous collisions, and of course it appeared at times he traveled left of center," Sgt. Lewis said. "We're going to use our vehicular homicide crimes detectives to reconstruct the collision to find out exactly what took place."

The suspect has been identified as 39-year-old Shawn Nelson.

"He was booked on numerous felonies, to include 1st Degree Murder, Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Collision, Unlawful Flight from Police, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Drug Possession, and others," added Lewis.

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