Exclusive: Chris Bates' father, aunt still in disbelief over crime spree, talk to ABC Action News

LAKELAND, Fla. - The father of the man who led police on a high speed chase Friday following an alleged crime spree that included robbery and the rapes of several women near the USF area said he watched it all unfold on live television.

"It's hard," said Jeryl Coleman tearfully in an exclusive interview with ABC Action News on Saturday. "If I didn't know my son, I'd go along with what everybody's saying," he said. "But I know him and I know he wouldn't do that, all that they said, you know?" he said.

Charlie Christopher 'Chris' Bates, 24, was on the run after a series of home invasions near USF late Thursday night and early Friday morning. Officials said Bates fired shots, raped four women, and forced about 20 people at a birthday party into a bedroom.
 
After authorities identified the suspect as Bates through fingerprints left at one of the crime scenes, a massive manhunt was under way to bring him into custody. Bates reportedly cut his hair and stole a car, then led police on a chase that ended in a shootout with law enforcement officers on Highway 301 just south of I-4.
 
Bates' aunt, Willie May Harper, of Lakeland, told ABC Action News her father had just passed away and she was writing his obituary as she found out her nephew was being chased by police live on television. "As I was watching, my heart was like it was going to beat out of my chest because I really couldn't believe it. I'm looking at my nephew getting killed on live TV," said Harper. "It was excruciating pain," she said.
 
Coleman, Harper's brother, said the last time he saw his son, he was headed to a party with a girl he knew. He said he just can't believe his son raped anyone."I can't sit here and say he was a perfect child, because nobody's a perfect person, you know, he had his faults, everyone got their faults, but something like that?" he said. 
 
Harper said Bates became withdrawn after the loss of his grandmother a couple years ago, and he was very close to her. Then, Coleman said, Bates also lost his job. "He felt like his whole world was going down because he couldn't find a job," Coleman said.
 
Bates' family said they think the 24-year-old snapped under the pressure of the moment and didn't want to be taken into custody. "When my nephew was being chased and he shot out of the glass, he was ready to go be with the Lord," said Harper.
 

 

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