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Police: Home invasion ends in wreck

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

A confrontation between officers and a man who invaded a home Thursday night turned into high-speed chase that ended in a wreck, Decatur police said.

Police said Manuel Perez Lopez, 22, of Huntsville broke into an apartment in the 1400 block of College Street Southeast looking for his ex-girlfriend shortly before midnight.

The victim, Fabiola Rios Reyes, 21, was apparently fleeing an abusive relationship, said patrol Lt. Jackie Sherrill.

"She got scared and left him and came to Decatur in hiding from him, and somehow he found out where she was," Sherrill said.

"He went to a residence he had never been to before, kicked the door in and told them (the residents) he was armed with a gun and would kill anybody that interfered with what he was there to do. He assaulted his ex-girlfriend, dragged her from the apartment and told her, 'you're coming with me,' " Sherrill said.

"He put her in the passenger side (of his car), and when he walked around to the driver side, she saw an opportunity to escape and she got out of the car and ran back up the stairs to the apartment," he said.

By that time, Officers Chris Moffett and Chris Wilbanks were arriving on the scene.

"As he left the scene, he tried to hit one of the officers head on, forcing the officer to take evasive action," Sherrill said.

Police pursued Lopez in what Sherrill called a "low-speed chase" through the residential area.

When the chase reached Sixth Avenue Southeast, traffic was light, and the cars accelerated to around 60 or 70 mph, Sherrill said.

The chase crossed the Hudson Memorial Bridge and reached speeds of 80 to 90 mph as it continued on Alabama 20 and Interstate 565, out of the city limits.

Lopez left the interstate at the Greenbriar exit in Limestone County and drove north.

"Officers still gave chase and went down Greenbriar Road. But Greenbriar Road is not well lit, and officers broke off the chase for public safety reasons when the speeds got over 90 miles per hour," Sherrill said.

"They continued on down the road and saw the suspect vehicle had spun out and went out into a cotton field."

Officers caught Lopez on foot after he left the vehicle and tried to run, Sherrill said.

"The call was concerning a violent offense, first-degree burglary, so our concern was safety because he had made threats that he would kill somebody. ... We didn't recover any firearm, but that's not to say he didn't have one and throw it out the window or something."

Detective Jim Buchli and Officer Juan Penuelas investigated the events leading up to the chase and charged Lopez with first-degree burglary.

Patrol officers charged Lopez with third-degree domestic violence assault and numerous traffic offenses, including fleeing and attempting to elude, Sherrill said. Lopez remained in Decatur City Jail on Friday awaiting transfer to Morgan County Jail, where he will be held on $10,000 bond.

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