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West Memphis chase suspect identified by state police

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — The Arkansas State Police have identified the suspect who died following a police chase Monday afternoon in West Memphis.

Ronald Clinton of Memphis led West Memphis police on a chase after they tried to stop him in the eastbound lanes of I-40 around 5 p.m. Monday, authorities said. During the pursuit, he allegedly struck several patrol cars.

At one point, he even reversed directions, heading westbound in the eastbound lanes. One witness said the driver was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic before hitting a fuel tanker near mile marker 280.

Clinton was pulled from the wreckage and taken to an area hospital where he later died. At least one officer opened fire on the 47-year-old, authorities said. However, his exact cause of death remains unclear.

"It bothered me. It did. It brought tears to my eyes. I was sad about that."

That's what Linda Smith's reaction was when she found out her neighbor was the man in an officer-involved shooting.

"I don't know why he did what he did or what happened. I just don't understand it," Smith said.

She said she knew Clinton for 40-plus years as he grew up across the street in the Westwood area. She said she saw a different side of him.

"He's volunteered to cut my lawn. He cut my grass. If I had to have groceries taken out then he'd help me."

She said her prayers go out to his family during this time.

We knocked on their door, but no one answered.

On Monday, WREG reported Clinton may have robbed a Walmart before the incident.

Arkansas State Police are handling the case.

Criminal history

On Tuesday, WREG combed through Clinton's extensive criminal record in Memphis that dates back to the fall of 1989.

Records show he had barricaded himself in a hotel room before, hit an officer in the chest and swallowed crack cocaine in front of police.

In 2011, Clinton was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, evading arrest, assault/bodily harm, theft of property and driving with a suspended license. He was sentenced to eight years at the state penitentiary.

That same year he was also charged with drug possession, criminal trespass, resisting official detention, tampering with evidence and several other charges.