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Dallas bus hijacker was suspect in his girlfriend’s murder earlier this month

An armed man hijacked a Dallas transit bus Sunday morning, forcing the driver to lead police on a 20-mile chase through several Dallas suburbs before spike strips stopped the bus and the suspect was killed in a shoot-out with police, according to NBC DFW.

Police identified the hijacker as Ramon Thomas Villagomez, 31, and said San Antonio police wanted to question him about the death of his girlfriend, who was found dead in her home on April 7.

Catherine Menendez, 41, died of “multiple sharp force injuries,” KSAT reported, citing  the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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As CrimeOnline previously reported, the bus hijacking began at about 11 a.m. in Richardson, when DART police received a report that an armed man had boarded a bus on Buckingham Street, shot out some windows, and ordered the driver to head toward an undetermined location. At the time, one other passenger was reported to be on the bus. DART spokesman Mark Ball said.

“There was an immediate threat and danger to people on the bus that’s why we were pursuing this vehicle. You could not ask for a worse situation,” Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau said. “You have a situation where somebody has taken driver of a bus hostage, is shooting at the police as we are pursuing him and there’s people around all over the road.”

Finally, spike strips punctured the bus’s tires just before noon, and it came to a halt on northbound President George Bush Turnpike between Liberty Grove Road and State Route 66, the Dallas Morning News said. The suspect got off the bus, exchanged fire with police, and was hit. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A police officer and a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer were wounded during the incident as the suspect fired several times from the windows of the bus as it made its way through Richardson, Garland, Rowlett, Sachse, and Rockwall.

The officers were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening wounds. The passenger and the bus driver were unharmed.

WFAA reported that the DART officer was shot in the leg, and Garland Police said that one of their officers was wounded when his patrol car window was shot out. Rowlett police spokesman Cruz Hernandez said another officer’s patrol car was hit during the chase, but the officer was uninjured.

In addition to being a suspect in Mendendez’s death, Villagomez was also reportedly a suspect in an aggravated assault in Brazoria County.

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[Featured image: Ramon Thomas Villagomez/Garland Police Department]