Driver kills self during Bucks Co. police chase

HILLTOWN TWP., Pa. - September 6, 2011

Police say it all began around 5:30 p.m. on Monday when police in Hilltown Township received a call about a possible suicidal person.

That person, identified as 27-year-old Richard S. Cantando of Blooming Glen, had allegedly spoken to his minister saying his probation was going to be violated but he couldn't go to prison.

According to the call, Cantando told his minister that he had a gun and was planning to take his own life.

Then, around 12:20 a.m. on Tuesday, police say they saw Cantando's vehicle entering the parking lot of an apartment complex. The officers tried to pull Cantando over but he took off, leading them onto a high-speed chase.

During the pursuit, officers say Cantando leaned out the window and fired six or seven shots at police, with one police car being hit and disabled.

Police units from other jurisdictions joined the chase which headed north on Route 309 through Quakertown. There, officers deployed stop sticks and flattened the rear tires of Cantando's vehicle, but the chase continued.

State police troopers joined the chase and forced Cantando's car off the road in the area of Bubba's Restaurant in Springfield Township.

Officers say Cantando fired out of the window at police, then drove toward them as officers returned fire. Investigators say Cantando was not hit by police gunifre.

His car then went south on Route 309 and then, in the area of Tollgate Road, police say Cantando put the gun against his head and fired. The vehicle went off the road and into a ditch.

Cantando was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

No police officers were injured.

According to police, Cantando has two previous run-ins with the law:

  • In 2009 Cantando pleaded guilty in Bucks County to Loitering and Prowling in the nighttime and was sentenced to 12 months probation.
  • In 2010 Cantando pleaded guilty in Montgomery County to Simple Assault for which he also received a sentence of 12 months probation.
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