LONOKE, Ark. — A fugitive from Mercer County is believed to have taken his own life during a confrontation with police who tried to apprehend him in the kidnapping of a 14-year-old North Carolina girl.
Police were pursuing William Robert Ice, 38, of Jackson Center, in the kidnapping. Ice also was wanted locally on charges stemming from the reported sexual assault last year of a 14-year-old girl from Mercer County.
An Arkansas police officer was wounded in the gunfight and was reported in stable condition Sunday, authorities said.
Ice died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after fleeing from authorities, according to the Arkansas State Police. The girl was found safe.
Two Lonoke, Ark., police officers confronted the driver of an SUV parked at the fast-food restaurant Saturday night after the vehicle was connected to a North Carolina child abduction case. Lonoke is located about 27 miles east of Little Rock.
The driver, later identified as Ice, 38, began shooting at the officers as he exited the SUV. One officer was hit while the other one, who was uninjured, returned gunfire as Ice entered the vehicle again and fled, according to state police.
An Arkansas State Trooper spotted the SUV and pursued it until the vehicle became disabled in a snowbank. The 14-year-old girl fled from the vehicle and was secured by a state trooper.
Inside the SUV, a trooper found Ice critically injured. He later died at a Little Rock hospital.
Arkansas State Police, working with sheriff’s deputies in Davidson County, N.C., and with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation determined the girl had been kidnapped.
The Davidson County Sheriff Department said Ice had been communicating with the girl online through a school-issued device. Investigators also reported that Ice had contacted other teenage girls in Alamance County, N.C.
Ice took the Davidson County girl on Feb. 11, the sheriff’s office said. Authorities were able to identify Ice’s vehicle, which police in Arkansas said played a role in police stopping him and recovering the girl.
North Carolina authorities charged Ice with first-degree kidnapping and soliciting a child by computer.
North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and Pennsylvania State Police all participated in the investigation and search for Ice.
Ice was also wanted by Pennsylvania law enforcement authorities in connection with other child predator cases.
On Feb. 9, Pennsylvania state police filed single counts of corruption of minors, unlawful contact with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child; two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; and three counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.
Ice also was apprehended last summer after a sting operation run by the Mahoning County (Ohio) Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force reported that Ice appeared for a meeting with what he thought would be a sexual encounter with a teenage girl.
Instead, he saw the police and fled, almost hitting two Ohio state highway patrolmen. He was taken into custody several weeks later by state police from the Lawrence County barracks and the Pennsylvania State Police Fugitive Task Force.
Herald Staff Writer Monica Pryts contributed to this article.