By Leah Williams
A Missouri man and woman who led police on a high speed chase through Washington County on Tuesday have been charged with several felony counts, including the attempted murder of a Wamac police officer.
Jared M. Queen 40, of St. Clair and Maria A. Moore, 40, of Wright City face attempted first degree murder charges as well as five counts of aggravated discharge of a fire arm, all of which are Class X felonies.
Centralia Police responded to a report of a man battering someone in the back seat of a car at Calumet and Hickory streets at 10:40 a.m. The car fled at a reported high rate of speed when officers attempted to make contact.
The pursuit continued south on U.S. Route 51 through Washington County with the vehicle eventually turning westbound on Illinois 177.
“A police pursuit started in Centralia, as Centralia Police attempted to investigate information received from the public involving a Jaguar sedan wherein an individual was reportedly beating on something in the back seat of the car,” Washington County Sheriff Len Campbell said. “They located the car, which had two occupants, and attempted to investigate the situation. However, the individuals sped off, attempting to elude the police. The car proceeded through Washington County via Illinois Route 177 and several county and township roads.”
Police have said when the chase was near New Minden, the driver of the vehicle had fired a long gun at Wamac Police Chief Steve Prather and Centralia Lt. Greg Dodson. A passenger also reportedly began fire at the police vehicles through the sunroof of the suspect vehicle.
According to charging documents filed with the Washington County Circuit Court, the both defendants both fired a .410 shotgun “knowing that such act created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.”
If convicted of the attempted murder charge, both Queen and Moore could each face a prison term of between 20 and 80 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Queen and Moore were also charged with reckless conduct, two counts of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon and resisting a peace officer.
Queen also faces aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, a Class 4 felony, and armed violence, also a Class X felony.
The chase lasted more than 30 minutes with multiple agencies involved. It ended in Coulterville. The Illinois State Police are also investigating.
Bail has been set at $3 million for both Queen and Moore. Both defendants pleaded not guilty on Friday. A preliminary hearing is set for July 19.