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Wanted man stopped by VPSO flees, takes his life

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Posted at 9:02 AM, Nov 24, 2021

A routine traffic stop escalated and ended with a suspect dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, deputies say.

A Vermilion Parish deputy pulled over a motorcycle Tuesday morning, because the driver wasn't wearing a helmet. The stop happened on La. 700 near the intersection with Shelly Road, northeast of Kaplan.

The motorist could not produce ID, and allegedly gave false information about who he was, a spokesman says. A second deputy arrived for backup, and around that time the man allegedly slowly pulled out a gun from his saddlebag. He didn't point it at the deputies or threaten them, so they pulled their own guns and told him to drop it. He turned and ran away into an overgrown area off Shelly Road.

A perimeter was setup to contain the situation while the VPSO Special Response Team was called out.

Deputies were able to identify the man as Kelly Vaughn, AKA Kelly Griffin, 43, who was wanted on a Montana warrant for possession of a weapon. He was listed in the federal system as armed and dangerous, and the warrant ordered no bail or bond.

The VPSO and Louisiana State Police used aerial drones to find him hiding in the thick tall grassy field. Surveillance verified that Vaughn was armed with a handgun. Drones maintained surveillance on his location while crisis negotiators were used to communicate with Vaughn in an attempt to get Vaughn to surrender peacefully.

During negotiations, Vaughn fired shots at the drones and made several statements threatening suicide, stating he was not going back to jail, the spokesman said. Vaughn shot himself at about 4:30 p.m., the spokesman said. A Montana sheriff handled notification of his family members.

According to Sheriff Mike Couvillion, he received calls from several residents in the area, concerned with the magnitude of law enforcement presence around their homes but they were also relieved once the ordeal was over, knowing their families were safe.

The Sheriff thanked his deputies and his Special Response Team for their professionalism, patience, and tactical handling of this type of call. “Our deputies and response teams are trained to handle these types of emergencies and although the loss of any life is never the outcome we hope for, the ability of the deputies to contain and deal with this type of emergency is an example of their brave and unwavering commitment to protect and serve the people of Vermilion Parish,” said the Sheriff. The Sheriff also thanked the Louisiana State Police for assisting deputies on the call.

If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It's open 24 hours a day and people are available to talk in English and in Spanish. The number is 800-273-8255.