Chase Ends With Man Facing 3 Felonies
By TIM MONZINGO
A Jacksonville man is facing three felony charges after a reported suicide spiraled into a chase with Smith County law enforcement Sunday.
About noon Sunday, Smith County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to Carpenters Baptist Church on Farm-to-Market Road 344 west, about an apparently suicidal man, according to a report of calls received by the office.
Lt. Tony Dana, a spokesman for the office, said Christopher Mata, 25, apparently was sitting in his truck with a knife to his throat when deputies arrived on scene.
"Deputies were talking to him, trying to get him to put the knife down. He refused to drop the knife," Dana said Monday. "Anytime they got close to him, he'd put his truck in reverse and say he'd leave if they didn't back off."
Eventually, Mata fled the church and led deputies on a chase down Texas Highway 155 south toward Dogwood City, at times reaching 100 mph, Dana said. The chase stopped at another church parking lot in the 22000 block of the highway, he said, and deputies tried to block Mata's truck.
"They tried to surround him to keep him from trying to get away, but he pulled back out onto (Texas) 155, at which time he rammed a Bullard police unit and drove toward another deputy at a high rate of speed," the lieutenant said.
This time, Dana said Mata was traveling north on the highway, but in the southbound lane. The ranking officer on the call reported there was heavy traffic on the highway and rammed Mata's vehicle in an attempt to disable it, Dana said, and then Mata pulled into a fireworks stand.
"They had to negotiate with him for a few minutes to get him to drop the knife. He also attempted to struggle with them, and they sprayed him with (pepper) spray," he said.
Mata was taken to East Texas Medical Center, where a physical and mental evaluation were conducted, Dana said, and he was released to deputies, who booked him into the jail.
Mata is charged with two counts of aggravated assault of a public servant, which is a first-degree felony, and evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle, a state jail felony, according to the Texas Penal Code.
Mata was still in custody at the Smith County Jail as of 5 p.m. Monday on a combined bond of $200,000.
Dana said while taking inventory of the contents of Mata's truck, "evidence that he'd been drinking and possibly taking prescription medication" was found.