6-hour Nacogdoches Co. manhunt leads to arrest of drive-by shooting suspects who crashed car

Orlando Melendez (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)
Orlando Melendez (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)
Mario Ortega (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)
Mario Ortega (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Deputies with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's office arrested two men after they allegedly fired shots at a man on U.S. Highway 59 late Tuesday night and fled from authorities after their car crashed into a telephone pole.

Orlando Jesus Melendez, 24, and Mario Ortego, 22, both of Lufkin, are still being held in the Nacogdoches County Jail. Both men were charged with second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and Class A misdemeanor evading arrest or detention. Melendez was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, which is a third-degree felony.

Melendez's bail was set at $32,500, and Ortega's bail was set at $16,500.

According to the arrest affidavit, NCSO deputies were dispatched out to a disturbance with weapons in the 10000 block of Highway 59 at 9:13 p.m. Tuesday. A press release from the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office stated that the 911 call said two Hispanic males fired a total of four shots at a man and woman who were in the process of closing the store.

No one was hit by the gunfire.

While the deputies were on their way to Hill's Drive-Thru, the dispatcher told them the suspects fled the scene in a black, 2-door Honda, heading north toward Nacogdoches.

The suspect vehicle headed north on FM 2782 and crossed State Highway 7 with the complainant's vehicle following it. At 9:23 p.m., the 911 dispatcher told the deputies that the suspects' car had crashed at the intersection of FM 2782 and FM 225. Deputies arrived on the scene a short time later and found the Honda with one door open.

According to the arrest affidavit, it looked as though the vehicle spun, left the roadway, and struck a telephone pole.

Deputies and deputy constables searched the immediate area, but the two suspects had fled the scene. Authorities established a perimeter. After a 6-hour search, deputies found the two suspects hiding in a pasture in the 6500 block of CR 724.

Based on physical evidence observed by the deputies and verbal statements from the two victims, authorities determined that Melendez was the one who fired the shots in the victims' direction.

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