LAKELAND - The man accused of four rapes who led police on a high speed chase may have been trying to get officers to kill him, his family says. I-Team investigator Michael George was the first reporter to speak to the family of Charlie "Chris" Bates, who was killed in a gunfight with police on Friday. Bates' stepfather, Garfield Williams, says Bates was recently depressed and had attempted suicide before. He believes he ran from police in order to commit "suicide by cop".
Bates' family told ABC Action News they saw him get shot and killed on live television after officers ran his car off the road.
"It's devastating. It's totally devastating to watch a child die," Williams said.
Bates is accused of going on a violent crime spree overnight in the USF area. He allegedly raped four women and held a large group of people hostage at gunpoint. Bates was 24-years old, and the I-Team has learned he had just finished a court ordered drug treatment program last week after an arrest earlier this year for marijuana possession.
He was also arrested in 2009 for domestic violence, but the charge was dropped. He was arrested 6 months ago for carrying a concealed weapon, but that charge was also dropped because the gun was in the trunk of his car, which prosecutors said did not meet the definition of "concealed weapon".
His family says Bates had recently lost his job at Publix, and had been suicidal for years. They claim they told police that Bates was suicidal prior to the pursuit, and they believe he could have been apprehended alive.
"I don't think they had to shoot as many times as they did," Williams said.
Bates' stepfather says he doesn't know what to believe about the allegations his stepson raped four women.
"If he did it, he did it to lead up to what happened," Williams said.
"Because he was trying to commit suicide?" asked George.
"Basically," Williams responded.
Williams said Bates was a good man, but troubled. He claimed Bates had been accused of crimes by women before, but didn't elaborate. He believed Bates was innocent in those cases.
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A Tampa Bay woman who helped kill her mother at the age of 15 walked out of prison a free woman early Friday.