By Ed Brock
Police say a Jonesboro man driving a panel truck led them on a chase, crashed into a sheriff's deputy's car and then shot himself in the head.
The chase that ended with 39-year-old Fitzgerald Bryan's death began around 5:16 a.m. Thursday with a domestic dispute between Bryan and his wife at their home on Brave Court off Jodeco Road, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said.
"They were about to go through a divorce," Turner said. "They got into an argument and he pulled a handgun and pointed it at her."
The couple's 13-year-old daughter then called 911 and Bryan left the house, got into a panel truck and drove off. An officer saw him leaving Brave Court and began the pursuit.
As the pursuit was under way, Clayton County Sheriff's Deputy Ernie Eberlein heard the discussion on the radio and was headed in the general direction of the chase to see if he could be of assistance, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Shelby Foles said. Eberlein, 52, was not using his emergency lights and was not driving at a high rate of speed.
"He didn't know what was about to happen," Foles said.
Bryan's panel truck suddenly came up behind Eberlein on Jodeco Road near Camp Road, hit the deputy's vehicle, lost control and went off the road into a nearby pasture.
At some point between going off the road and going into the wood line where the panel truck finally stopped Bryan shot himself in the head, Turner said.
Eberlein received minor injuries and was expected to be released from the hospital today, Foles said. Thursday was Eberlein's 19th anniversary of joining the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.