Digging into the past of suspect who police said caused "horrific" fatal collision in Tahlequah

Posted at 10:01 PM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-26 23:01:40-05

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - On the scene of a fatal police pursuit Friday afternoon Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said he believed the department had encountered the suspect before, but looking into his past it's a little more than an encounter or two. 

The scene was horrifying. 

“I heard it and when I got out here I saw the aftermath of it," said neighbor Kaysha Smallen. 

She said it sounded just as bad as it looked. 

 “She was like, 'I think she’s dead Kaysha. The way that car looks, she’s dead.”'

Police said 35-year-old Aram Barak Catron took off from a nearby Walmart after shoplifting. 

A Cherokee Nation Marshal recognized his car and tried to identify him when he sped off. 

“Conditions became dangerous for other citizens, the vehicle almost hit another car head on," said Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King. 

The first car spared but the second one, front completely smashed in, was not as fortunate. 

“He had to have been eluding the police pretty fast," Smallen said. 

Catron blew a stop sign and smashed into it at a high speed. 

 “What started out as a minor shoplifting call has turned into a very complex case," the chief said. 

A complex case with a suspect who has a complex past. 

Court records show Catron had charges filed against him in 14 cases in Delaware County in the past 17 years. 

He pleaded guilty to eluding police, leaving the scene of an injury collision, driving under the influence of alcohol, carrying a firearm while under the influence and speeding to name a few. 

Department of Corrections records show he served 6 years for some of the charges. 

His most recent court appearance just one week ago. 

“This is a senseless act that was caused by someone who was committing crime in Tahlequah no matter how trivial a crime it started out as being.”

The chief disappointed, saying none of this had to or should've happened in the first place. 

Catron was in the hospital Friday, police couldn't confirm his condition. 

Police plan to release the victim's name Saturday morning. 

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