Man takes his own life after pursuit, shootout with law enforcement in Douglas County

VANZANT, Mo. -- A Cabool man is dead following a multi-county chase early Saturday morning where he and law enforcement exchanged gunfire multiple times.

It all began around midnight in the Cabool area. Authorities say they tried to stop a suspected impaired driver but he began shooting at officers. He led multiple agencies on a pursuit that ended in field about 25 miles east of Ava in the town of Vanzant, where he took his own life.

Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase says that 42-year-old Barry Wedge almost immediately started firing at Cabool officers with several guns, including a shotgun, once they were behind him.

The chase hit speeds of 50 miles per hour down highway 181 south and then west on highway 76 to Vanzant.

Along the way, Sheriff Degase says Wedge would stop his car sideways in the road and fire rounds at the officers.

Degase says Wedge likely noticed spike strips set up by authorities near the highway 95 and 76 intersection and turned off early, driving through a gate into a field.

Degase says Wedge began driving in circles in the field, firing rounds at a Douglas County deputy who was firing back through his windshield of his truck.

Wedge then crashed his truck in a ravine and fired more shots at Deputy Long of Douglas County, who also fired back.

Sheriff Degase says it's important to note that Wedge was never shot by officers.

"The results of the autopsy revealed that the suspect died of a single self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. There were no rounds from either the sheriff's office, deputy Long or the Cabool Police officers found in the suspect."

Sheriff Degase says that Wedge was recently interviewed by Missouri Highway Patrol in regards to a homicide investigation out of North Dakota.

Degase says he can only assume that Wedge began firing at police because he thought they had pulled him over due to the allegations against him out of North Dakota.

Two Cabool officers and Deputy Nathan Long with Douglas County are all on standard paid-administrative leave, while Douglas County continues the investigation.

Degase says deputy long did suffer some welts on his legs from shotgun pellets. He says they did not penetrate the skin.

Degase says that no intoxicants were found in Wedge's vehicle but that he was going to be pulled over due to the fact that he was driving erratically.

Degase estimates that Wedge fired 30 plus rounds at officers during the whole ordeal.