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DeKalb County, Ala., Sheriff's Office in Fort Payne, Ala., as seen on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. / Staff file photo by Ben Benton

A man pursued by authorities in a three-county chase in Northeast Alabama at one point slowed down enough to allow a passenger to jump out before later crashing into patrol cars and being shot by police.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency hasn't released any additional information since Sunday night, and that was only to confirm that the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was probing the shooting.

But authorities in the Blount County town of Snead said it all started there.

Snead Police Department Chief Stephen Gunn said the incident began after an officer spotted a blue Ford Explorer with no license plate that took off at a "high rate of speed across private property."

When the officer got behind the vehicle, the driver passed two other vehicles on a double-yellow line on Alabama Highway 75, initiating the pursuit, Gunn said.

"He refused to stop and was driving erratically," Gunn said. "Then the [driver] slowed and a passenger got out and then the pursuit continued on."

Gunn said he figured the passenger "just wanted out of the car."

Police stayed in the chase through neighboring Marshall County.

"We broke off the pursuit almost at the DeKalb County line," Gunn said. Charges are pending in Snead against the driver, the chief said.

Albertville police joined the chase when the fleeing Explorer reached the town 21 miles to the north on Highway 75, Albertville Police Department Chief Jamie Smith said in a statement.

"[A]s it neared the Albertville Airport, officers from the Albertville Police Department deployed spike strips in an attempt to stop the pursuit," Smith said. "The spike strips flattened one tire of the suspect vehicle but the pursuit continued north on Highway 75 as the vehicle refused to stop."

Albertville officers continued the pursuit another 14 or so miles into DeKalb County "where it was joined by officers from the Geraldine Police Department and also deputies from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department," Smith said. "Just as the vehicle passed through downtown Geraldine the vehicle made attempts to crash into officers when a DeKalb County Sheriff's Department vehicle was struck.

"Officers then fired multiple rounds into the vehicle in an attempt to stop [it]. In the gunfire, the white male driver was struck and the pursuit then ended," Smith said.

The driver was taken to Marshall Medical Center South and later airlifted to Huntsville Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition, he said.

"Officers from the Albertville Police Department have been placed on administrative leave per department protocol," Smith said.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tyler Pruett wrote in an email Tuesday that no DeKalb County Sheriff's Office deputies discharged their weapons during the incident, but said one deputy used his vehicle to push the suspect vehicle off the road and end the chase. The damage to the sheriff's office vehicle was minor, but the deputy was injured in the collision, he said.

Pruett added that the suspect will face the most serious charges in DeKalb, as the chase ended there. "We are waiting to file charges after the state concludes their investigation," he said.

Authorities haven't identified the suspect, but the suspect's parents identified the man shot by police as 26-year-old Kenneth Shawn Whitmore, according to a report by WHNT News 19 in Huntsville. David and Diane Whitmore told the television station they want to know why their son was shot five times after he told them he was holding up his hands.

They said their son was still recovering from his wounds, but they said he wouldn't tell them why he wouldn't stop for police, WHNT reported.

There was no word from authorities on when Whitmore might be released from the hospital or what charges he might face.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

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