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Authorities release video of pursuit of Dougherty siblings

ZEPHYRHILLS — Officer Kevin Widener hooked left into a CVS parking lot, tailing a white sedan in a chase that had topped 100 mph. He already had been shot at once. As he rounded the building, another crackle of gunfire rang out.

Widener paused, then pressed on the gas again.

"He fired several more shots at me," Widener, his voice a steely calm, told dispatchers on his police radio, according to video of the chase released Monday.

He kept up the Aug. 2 chase a little longer, but a flat tire sidelined him on Chancey Road as the white car drove off.

It was the last he saw of the car carrying three heavily armed siblings who are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

The fugitives have been identified as Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21, and his brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26, and sister Lee-Grace E. Dougherty, 29. The Aug. 2 chase unfolded just after 7 a.m. when Widener tried to pull over the car when he clocked it driving 45 mph in a 30 mph neighborhood.

Authorities are keeping most aspects of the investigation — which now involves the FBI — under close wraps. The Doughertys are suspected of robbing a Valdosta, Ga., bank hours after fleeing Zephyrhills.

Billboards bearing pictures of the siblings have gone up across the southeastern United States. Valdosta police Cmdr. Brian Childress said he received several tips over the weekend, including calls saying the siblings' vehicle was spotted near Forsyth, Ga., and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Authorities also released details Monday that Pasco detectives had searched a rural Zephyrhills home in February where Ryan Dougherty and Dylan Dougherty Stanley were believed to be staying.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll said the search of an "underground area" at the property on Berry Road was part of a vice and narcotics investigation. No one was there, and the search did not yield enough evidence to make any arrests.

The home's landlord told Fox 13 News that the underground structure consisted of two 40-foot cargo containers buried side-by-side, connected by a man-made hallway. The structure has running water and electricity.

The 4.5-acre property was previously owned by Suzanne Stanley, a relative of the Doughertys. County records show she sold the property for $110,000 in March, just weeks after deputies searched the premises.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, in a press conference Monday, reiterated the need for the public's help in catching the Doughertys — and the need for caution.

"They will shoot at us, they'll shoot at our citizens," Nocco said. "We hope everybody, from this video, realizes how dangerous they are."

Zephyrhills Police Chief David Shears said the video still gives him chills each time he watches it. Authorities recovered more than 20 bullet casings scattered along the 4-mile path of the chase.

Widener, 33, was not injured in the chase. He's a six-year veteran of the small-town department.

Zephyrhills Capt. Robert McKinney praised the characteristically calm officer for keeping his composure during the pursuit.

"His training kicked in," McKinney said. "That's what it's there for. You don't have time to think."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or on Twitter at @mmoorheadtimes.

Correction

Zephyrhills police Officer Kevin Widener's name was misspelled in a previous version of this article.

See the video

Watch the video at tampabay.com/video. Portions of the video were redacted as part of the investigation. The audio begins about 30 seconds into the chase.

Authorities release video of pursuit of Dougherty siblings 08/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:19pm]
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