Wanted East Texan Captured On The Run
By TIM MONZINGO
It took deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office in Mississippi multiple spike strips and gunfire to stop a Tyler man racing through their state Tuesday, shortly after 10 a.m.
Suspected bank robber Steven Ray Milam, 44, was in custody after deputies pursued his 2009 Volkswagen Jetta down a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 10. The chase ended near exit 61, in the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, near the community of Gautier.
Deputies were alerted to Milam's car when his license plate came up while attempting to make a traffic stop, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said.
The Texas tags were flagged as the result of a New Year's Eve bank robbery in Richardson for which authorities believe Milam is responsible. While fleeing the scene of the robbery, the suspect fired at least three shots at a Richardson police officer.
The officer was not injured during the shootout.
"We had blocked the interstate behind the pursuit and ahead of the pursuit about three miles, so there was nobody around but us and him," Byrd said.
Byrd said deputies laid three spike strips on the interstate in an attempt to stop Milam, but none were successful.
At that point, Byrd decided to use a more aggressive tactic.
"It was just getting too dangerous, that's when I came up and shot the tire out," he said. "I guess he was just down and determined that he wasn't going to stop, so that's when I made the decision to do what I did."
Byrd said Milam refused to get out of the car and deputies finally dragged him out of the vehicle.
En route to the sheriff's office, Milam vomited in the squad car, Byrd said.
"We think he might have ingested some pills of some kind before we got him stopped," the sheriff said. "We took him to the hospital and the doctor said he's going to make a full recovery."
About a dozen deputies from the 300-person office were involved in the chase.
Byrd said Milam is charged with felony evasion in Mississippi, which carries a penalty of five years in prison.
Milam is suspected of being the "Handsome Guy" robber, who is thought to be responsible for several bank robberies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Richardson police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Perlich said.
Lydia Maese, a spokeswoman for the Dallas FBI branch, would not confirm Milam was a person of interest in those cases.
"I really can't comment on the bank robberies. There hasn't been anything filed yet officially," she said. "That's not to say it's not going to be filed, but nothing has been filed right now."
Byrd said his office had a hold on Milam from Texas and was awaiting "a federal warrant for 11 counts of bank robbery" Tuesday afternoon.
Perlich said they were glad to see Milam so quickly in custody after the New Year's Eve robbery and shootout at the Compass Bank branch in Richardson, which happened just before noon.
"It surprised me we got our hands on him as quickly as what we did," Perlich said. "I thought for sure he'd be on the run a little bit longer."
Perlich said they were pleased to learn of the arrest and that no injuries were reported in the process.
Milam owns Monumental Memorials in Tyler.