Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Dec. 7, 2021

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Vancouver homicide suspect confirmed dead in crash

Fatal crash followed a 40-mile pursuit on I-5 near Sacramento, Calif.

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Authorities positively identified the woman who died in a California car crash as the suspect in a Vancouver homicide.

The Yolo County Coroner’s Office identified Ailiana Fualilia Siufanua, 18, of Des Moines as the woman who died in a high-speed crash following a police pursuit that spanned about 42 miles of Interstate 5 near Sacramento, Calif., on Monday night.

The Vancouver Police Department said that Siufanua was the suspect in the shooting death of Bentley Brookes, a 58-year-old Camas man who worked at Pacific Bullion Precious Metals, 701 Main St., in downtown Vancouver.

Brookes’ body was found in the store on the morning of Nov. 25. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Two days after the killing, police circulated a surveillance photo of a suspect in the shooting and asked for the public’s help in identifying the woman. Vancouver police later identified the suspect as Siufanua.

Siufanua was a passenger in a 1999 Honda Accord traveling south on I-5 about 70 miles north of Sacramento at speeds in excess of 100 mph Monday night, according to the California Highway Patrol.

When an officer attempted to pull over the car, the driver, 21-year-old Thomas Leae of Renton, did not stop and continued south. Officers pursued the vehicle, which authorities said was stolen in Auburn, Calif.

The vehicle left the freeway in Arbuckle, Calif., then re-entered I-5, traveling south in the northbound lanes, police said. Officers continued the pursuit in the southbound lanes.

The driver lost control of the Honda and went off of the roadway, striking a tree, the highway patrol reported.

Leae suffered major injuries and was taken by air ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center. Siufanua suffered fatal injuries, California authorities reported.

Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said that there are reasons to believe that items were stolen from Pacific Bullion Precious Metals, but that it is hard to know if robbery was the motive for the homicide.

“The primary suspect is deceased, so there won’t be prosecution for that,” Kapp said. “The two people that were there are not alive any longer. Some pieces of information we may not know.”

Detectives, however, are following up with the investigation to determine whether Leae was involved in the Vancouver crime, Kapp said.

The timeline for determining that is up in the air, she added, because Leae could face charges in relation to Monday’s crash.

Siufanua didn’t have an adult criminal history in Washington state. Leae, however, was charged with third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer and attempting to elude police in King County in April 2013. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 months in prison, but only served about 12 of those months and was released in November 2014.

On Nov. 23 of this year, Leae was charged with theft of a motor vehicle in King County, though that case is still pending.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter