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Pursuit ends with capture in Flagler County

BROOKSVILLE — Authorities captured a Pasco County man in Flagler County on Tuesday, ending a frantic coast-to-coast pursuit that started earlier in the day when he abducted his wife at gunpoint near Brooksville, according to authorities.

Randolph Mark Moats, 39, of Lacoochee was caught about 4 p.m., only minutes after dropping off his estranged wife at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine and leading authorities on a brief car chase. Flagler County deputies finally arrested Moats when he abandoned his car and tried to run off.

Authorities said Donna Sue Moats, 35, was being treated at Flagler Hospital for a gunshot wound in her torso. They were unsure of her condition as of Tuesday evening.

"We did a very preliminary discussion with her before (doctors) rushed her to the emergency room," said Sgt. Chuck Mulligan, a spokesman with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. "But she did in fact give us a description of vehicle. And that helped us to put our deputies on alert to be on the lookout for him in the area."

The Hernando Sheriff's Office said the pursuit started about 11 a.m. in the area of Cyrano Avenue, northeast of Brooksville.

Witnesses told authorities that Randolph Moats forced his wife into his green 1994 Jeep at gunpoint. Donna Moats called her daughter to tell her that she had been shot and needed assistance, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Randolph Moats was able to elude authorities for several hours before taking his wife to a hospital more than 130 miles away — nearly to the other side of the state — with a gunshot wound, authorities said.

Moats told hospital personnel that his wife had been shot near Daytona Beach and waited until she was taken away to the emergency room, Mulligan said. Once Moats had left the hospital, Donna Moats revealed that it was her estranged husband who had shot her and that he had taken her away at gunpoint earlier in the day.

Mulligan said deputies soon tracked down Randolph Moats near Interstate 95 and State Road 207, not far from the hospital. A St. Johns deputy followed Moats for a few minutes before turning on his lights and sirens, Mulligan said.

Moats then tried to speed off, driving at nearly 105 mph and avoiding stop sticks set out by authorities. The chase lasted about 10 minutes and went into nearby Flagler County, where deputies there were finally able to catch him.

Moats remained in custody in the Flagler County jail as of Tuesday evening, Mulligan said. It wasn't immediately clear what charges he might face.

"We have began the process of connecting the dots," Mulligan said. "Right now, we're trying to determine in which county that (Donna Moats) was shot."

Neither Randolph Moats nor Donna Moats have a criminal record in Florida. Records show the couple was married in Pasco County in 1988, when Randolph Moats was 19 and Donna Moats was 15.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or 754-6120.

Pursuit ends with capture in Flagler County 07/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2008 5:01pm]
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