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Real-Life Drama In Death Valley

Three people in a weapons-filled car led police on a high-speed chase and shot down a California Highway Patrol helicopter before being captured in Death Valley.

The two men and woman were arrested late Friday, more than 18 hours after the incident began. They had fled on foot after their car broke down in Death Valley National Park, and they had been surrounded by 100 law-enforcement officers in the bleak Furnace Creek area.

No one was injured and authorities did not immediately offer a motive. The suspects were taken to the Inyo County jail in the small eastern Sierra town of Independence, where charges were pending.

Arrested were Lloyd Burrus, 44, and Cheryl Maarteuse, 50, both of Downey, Idaho, and Jeffrey Burrus, 20, of Emeryville, Calif., according to a statement from the Inyo County Sheriff's Department. It was not immediately known whether the two men were related.

The three could face charges of attempted murder of a peace officer and shooting at aircraft in flight, the sheriff's department said. They remained jailed Saturday in this small eastern Sierra town.

The trio was captured trying to sneak away in the dark, Inyo County Sheriff Dan Lucas said.

"They started to move and one of the ground teams was able to take them into custody without anybody being injured," Lucas said.

"We had a helicopter up that had been watching them with night vision and saw them move."

The car contained a cache of high-powered rifles and bullets, said sheriff's Cpl. Scott Stell. Warrant checks on the car showed it had not been stolen.

The chase began about 5 a.m. Friday when Nevada Highway Patrol officers attempted to pull over the car on U.S. 95 near Lathrope Wells, Nev., about 60 miles north of Las Vegas.

During their flight, the suspects shot at authorities, who did not return fire, Stell said. The car left the highway near Furnace Creek, then broke down on a dry lake bed.

As the suspects fled on foot, they fired at a California Highway Patrol helicopter carrying three people, damaging the craft badly enough that it had to land, authorities said.

They continued to shoot at police aircraft throughout the night, Lucas said.

"But the CHP helicopter was the only one they hit," he said.
Until they tried to escape, authorities had planned to wait
until daylight before moving to arrest them.