SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. -- Authorities have confirmed the man killed in a shootout with Virginia State Police in rural Sussex County Wednesday morning is murder suspect Tramaine Marquese Poole of New Haven, Conn.
Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne N. Geller said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner positively identified the 41-year-old on Thursday.
Poole was called "Public Enemy Number One" by New Haven investigators after he allegedly fatally shot 28-year-old Tyekqua Nesbitt in front of her two children in that city on May 31.
Detectives then set off a nationwide manhunt for the suspect who was considered armed and dangerous and also wanted in New Haven for the first-degree shooting assault of his wife on May 7. He is also a convicted felon who has several drug and gun convictions as well as accessory to assault with serious injury, according to online records.
"When the information came that he is no longer a threat, relief is the only word I can use to describe the feeling," New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said.
Connecticut police said they had good information about Poole's whereabouts prior to the Wednesday chase and shootout in Virginia, but they did not share any details on where he was hiding prior to the incident.
"The Virginia State Police is most appreciative of the assistance and support provided by the New Haven, Conn. Police Department during the course of the investigation," Geller said.
Nesbitt's twin sister, Tashuana Nesbitt, said news of Poole's death ended 64 days of terror for her family.
"I promised my sister that justice would be served, and I got that justice yesterday," Tashuana Nesbitt, who is caring for her sister's two children, said.
She said that while the manhunt may be over, the family’s grief is still raw.
"Even though he's gone, it still does not bring 100-percent peace to me. Her soul is at rest, but we're still hurting,” Tashuana Nesbitt said.
Authorities in Connecticut thanked Virginia State Police, who lost 2-year-old narcotics detection canine “Vadar” in the gun battle with Poole.
New Haven's Police Chief said officials are looking into using some of $30,000 reward offered by the U.S. Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force and States Attorney’s office to help fund “Vadar's” funeral.
Suspect, K-9 officer killed after shootout
Officials said Poole and a two-year-old K-9 officer were killed after the chase on I-95 ended in gunfire.
Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne N. Geller said a trooper headed north on Interstate 95 in Sussex County identified a vehicle at 8:18 a.m. that had been reported stolen from Connecticut.
"The trooper activated his lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle," Geller said. "The vehicle's driver refused to stop for the trooper and sped away."
As the pursuit began, officials said the suspect began firing at the trooper's vehicle. The pursuit continued on I-95 until the driver took Exit 24 for Owens/Route 645 in Sussex County.
Officials said that as the car approached the intersection of Loco School and Bell roads, troopers positioned themselves to stop the vehicle.
Geller said the suspect continued firing at the state police vehicles. It was then that "one of the suspect's bullets pierced a K9 trooper's back passenger window and struck a state police canine riding in the back seat compartment."
Officials said once the vehicle stopped, troopers engaged the suspect and shots were fired.
Troopers said an adult female passenger in the suspect's vehicle was released after being treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital.
Geller said no troopers were injured.
"The state police narcotics detection canine, Vader, did not survive his injuries," Geller said.
The 2-year-old Belgian Malinois graduated from Virginia State Police Narcotics Detection Training in December 2017.
Officials said three troopers are on administrative leave as is policy for officer-involved shootings.
The investigation into the incident remains ongoing, Geller said.
Neighbor: I heard 'bang! bang bang!'
Along Bells Road in Sussex, people are used to seeing trees and mailboxes not police pursuits that end in gunfire.
As the police pursuit exited Interstate 95 north at Exit 24, neighbor Dwayne Tomlin hear sirens and saw the vehicles heading down Bell Road.
"I heard a gunshot," said Tomlin.
"All of a sudden I heard bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang and then I got in my truck and rode up there," added Tomlin, who captured some video of the incident on his cell phone.
"That had spun out and run into the ditch and was turned over and was smoking when I got there," said Tomlin, referencing to a vehicle involved in the crash.
David Hornberger was walking down his driveway; when he saw the suspect vehicle speeding down Bell Road.
“Then less than a second or two behind it, there come police officer after police officer. I mean they came out the wood work,” said Hornberger.
“I’ve never seen such a barrage of police officers in my life,” said Tameisha Reed.