PHOENIX (AP) — A man fatally shot himself in the head Friday on live national television at the end of a high-speed carjacking chase that began in Phoenix and ended about 90 minutes later within 80 miles of the California border.
Fox News was covering the chase that began about midday using a live helicopter shot from Phoenix affiliate KSAZ-TV. The man driving a copper-colored four-door sedan stopped, ran into the desert and placed a handgun to his head and fired.
The man was declared dead at the scene and hasn't yet been identified, according to Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith told viewers that the video was supposed to be on a 10-second delay so it could be cut off from airing if something went awry.
"We really messed up, and we're all very sorry," Smith said.
Fox apologized for showing the violence on air.
"We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay," said Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news editorial. "Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen."
More frequently than its rivals, Fox News Channel picks up car chases from its local affiliates and airs them live. It's gripping television, a live mystery with no clear resolution, and often provides a short-term ratings boost as viewers tune in to see how it ends. Critics say the chases themselves rarely rise to the level of national news. The Phoenix station was not airing the chase live when it ended.
Thompson said the man allegedly stole a car from a couple at gunpoint outside a Phoenix restaurant just before 11 a.m. MST.
Police officers located the vehicle and began a pursuit and the man fired several shots, Thompson said. He said the shots hit the police vehicle and the officers escaped injury.
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