Lake Shore Drive open after standoff with murder suspect

Array Police on the scene of a standoff involving an armed fugitive on Lake Shore Drive on Sunday. | Alex Wroblewski/Sun-Times

Lake Shore Drive was open to traffic again Monday morning after a standoff with a Georgia murder suspect in a car closed the road for nearly nine hours Sunday.

Police from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia identified the fugitive, whose car crashed on North Lake Shore Drive, as Joseph Andrew Felton Jr., 43. He is a suspect in the death of his wife, Sheray Latriest Felton, who was slain — allegedly during a domestic dispute — on Saturday.

Police in south suburban Harvey — alerted by authorities in Georgia to be on the lookout for Felton’s car — spotted the automobile and chased it nearly 20 miles before it crashed yards from the Theatre on the Lake just north of Fullerton on Lake Shore Drive shortly after 1 p.m.

Chicago Police Bureau of Patrol Chief Wayne Gulliford said the car struck multiple vehicles during the pursuit, including a Chicago police vehicle, injuring an officer. He said the officer was treated at an area hospital for injuries that weren’t life-threatening. The car also hit a civilian vehicle carrying two adults and 10-year-old child. They also were treated at an area hospital for injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

Moments after the crash, the car — its front and rear ends smashed in — was surrounded by dozens of police cars. Two armored police vehicles moved in. A SWAT team stood by.

Gulliford said the man in the car “told negotiators he was armed with a large number of guns was not coming out alive.”

Chicago police would confirm only that the man was armed with knives. Police said the man sustained lacerations, but Gulliford said, “It appears any injuries sustained were self-inflicted or a result of his own actions.”

“The suspect did threaten to harm himself and police if they approached,” Gulliford said.

Asked if a flash grenade was used to stun the suspect before SWAT removed him from the vehicle, he said “a distraction device” was used.

The standoff created a traffic nightmare on Lake Shore Drive, with police diverting traffic well away from the scene. News helicopters buzzed overhead. And curious bystanders shrugged off freezing temperatures and a bitter wind chill as they gathered near Diversey Harbor for a better view. Pedestrians on the lakefront path were turned back by police.

During the standoff, police negotiators tried to persuade the man in the car to surrender peacefully.

“Will you come out, please?” a negotiator said Sunday afternoon, aiming a bullhorn at the wrecked car. “We’re not going to hurt you. . . . We’ll get you some water, something to eat. What do you think of that?”

Every few minutes, police tried again. “What do you say, Joe? You getting cold? . . . We’re trying to reach you. Pick up your phone.”

A SWAT officer on the scene told a Sun-Times reporter that the man inside the car was bloody and probably had some broken bones.

“We are not leaving. Do you understand that?. . . All your family is here waiting for you,” a police negotiator said.

“We’re not leaving until you come out safely,” an officer added later.

“Your family’s out here and really cold,” a police negotiator later said. “If you want to see your family, wave your hand.”

The police also told him: “They’re worried about you. They want to make sure you’re OK.”

On Sunday morning, before the police chase began, Felton placed a call to his mother-in-law, according to Sheray Felton’s sister, Nancy Mays. “I loved your daughter,” he told her, Mays said.

“I’m going to be joining her soon,” he allegedly said.

“We figured he was going to be headed back this way,” Mays said.

Authorities said Felton lived in the Chicago area with his wife until a few months ago. Mays said her sister moved to Georgia a few months ago to get away from Felton, but he later followed her there.

“He’s a very controlling person, and she wanted to get away from the controlling situation,” Mays said.

Sheray sought an order of protection against Felton last May in Will County, but it was dismissed when no one appeared in court, records show.

Felton was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in Will County in July. Steger Police Chief Gregory Rambo said Felton was accused of slapping Sheray and pulling her wig off at a liquor store in the south suburb.

Sheray told police that Felton’s violence “had been increasing” and that he had spit in her face earlier in the day in Chicago. That domestic battery charge was later dismissed because of a lack of a complaining witness, according to court records.

Mays struggled through tears Sunday to talk about her sister. Sheray had a 21-year-old son, she said, and two puppies that she loved.

Mays said she loved Sheray “very, very dearly.”

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