Man Identified In Pursuit Death

State Police say a man who was shot and killed following a pursuit that ended on Interstate 77 Friday morning had previously told a friend he would do "whatever necessary" to keep from going back to jail.

State Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Baylous said Craig Keith, 34, originally from Altoona, Pa., but living in Charleston, also told a friend he would even go as far as pretending to have a weapon if encountered by police.

Baylous says those previous statements were "very consistent with what happened."

Keith was causing a disturbance at Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro at around 2am Friday. Police say he was drunk and was asked to leave. When he refused, Nitro Police were called to the scene and that’s when Keith ran to his vehicle and the pursuit began.

The pursuit started on Interstate 64 eastbound toward Charleston. The man eluded authorities and found his way to Corridor G, U.S. Route 119, and drove south into Lincoln County. There, he doubled-back and managed to drive back through Charleston and onto I-77 north. State Police and other agencies managed to stop the man using spike strips near the 132 Mile Marker in Jackson County.

Sgt. Baylous says Keith was driving recklessly during the pursuit and attempted to hit other motorists and police cruisers. He says once he was stopped he refused to obey police commands and was shot. Keith was pronounced dead at Jackson General Hospital in Ripley.

Interstate 77 northbound near the Kenna exit was closed for a few hours and motorists were detoured to the Fairplains exit. The northbound lanes reopened at shortly after 9:30am.

Sgt. Baylous says Keith had a previous criminal record including DUIs, obstructing police officers and assaults.

"It was quite significant," Baylous said.

Baylous says the investigation has not determined the police agency that fired the deadly shot. State Police are leading the investigation.

(Photo courtesy WSAZ-TV)

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