HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Dallas man who allegedly led law enforcement on a high-speed chase that ended with two wrecks in Houston County earlier this week and then tried take a deputy's weapon in a scuffle at Lufkin's Memorial Hospital is in "very serious" condition after he tried to hang himself Wednesday morning.
G.P. Shearer, the chief deputy for the Houston County Sheriff's Office said at approximately 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, jailers went to check on Joey Salinas, 36, and found him hanging in his separation cell. The jailers immediately pulled him down and started CPR before paramedics arrived on the scene. They also used an automated external defribilator (AED).
Salinas was rushed to East Texas Medical Center in Crockett for treatment, Shearer said. A press release from the Houston County Sheriff's Office stated that Salinas is on life support at this time.
If Salinas recovers, he will be facing felony charges of aggravated robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle as soon as he is released from the hospital, along with a misdemeanor evading arrest charge. Additional charges will be pending from the Dallas and Conroe police departments as well.
"We've called in the Texas Rangers to assist with this investigation because we want to be transparent as possible with this incident, and we want to make sure we have an outside investigation going at the same time," Shearer said.
East Texas News dug deeper and found that Salinas' alleged accomplice, Yeiny Gonzalez, 22, was a correctional officer at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Eastham Unit from Jan. 3, 2013, and she resigned during an ongoing investigation on June 10, 2013. Jason Clark, a spokesman for the TDCJ said that Salinas was an inmate at the Eastham Unit from Jan. 27, 2011 to May 10, 2013, when he was transferred to the Allred Unit.
Clark said correctional officers found pictures and letters from Gonzalez in Salinas' cell at the Allred Unit. The TDCJ spokesman said the discovery of the photos and letters prompted the investigation into the relationship between Gonzalez and Salinas.
Shearer said Salinas 36, asked to go to the restroom and then attacked a HCSO deputy. Salinas allegedly struck the deputy several times and tried to take his weapon. Hospital staff members helped restrain Salinas, Shearer said.
"The fight went out into the hallway, and there was a scuffle in the hallway, and the nursing staff saw what was going on," Shearer said. "They came to assist the deputy and got him restrained again."
Shearer said he is thankful that the hospital staff stepped up to help his deputy.
""I don't think they get training to fight combative people," Shearer said. "They are there to treat people. It is just human nature to help."
Sgt. David Casper, a spokesman for the Lufkin Police Department, said that LPD officers were dispatched out to the hospital Tuesday to help get Salinas under control after he assaulted the deputy. Salinas was restrained to his bed until he was released into the custody of HCSO deputies.
The deputy received cuts and bruises in the scuffle and was treated in the hospital's emergency room, Casper said. Shearer said the Houston County Sheriff's Office deputy is at home resting and will able to return to duty.
In a previous East Texas News story, Shearer said that Salinas and Gonzalez stole a black Mercedes 4-door sedan in Dallas and drove it to Conroe, where they were allegedly involved in a police chase, following an armed robbery in the Conroe area.
Gonzalez, who was also charged with aggravated robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, posted a $10,000 bail and was released from the Houston County Jail Tuesday.
The chase went through Montgomery and Walker counties and law enforcement officers took over in Houston County.
After Salinas and Gonzalez wrecked the stolen Mercedes, they allegedly went looking for another car to steal. The chief deputy said that, at one point, Salinas was running down FM 1280 when he made it look like he had a gun and told residents of the Austonio area to give him their car. He ran away when one of the people went into his or her home and returned with a gun and pointed it at him, Shearer said.
Shearer said the two suspects continued running, and Salinas was able to steal a 1997 Chevy Lumina from R.E. Jackson, a resident in the area. Salinas allegedly left Gonzalez stranded and took off in the car.
Salinas then allegedly wrecked the Chevy on SH 21 and authorities were able to take him into custody. Shearer said Salinas was taken by helicopter to a Lufkin hospital, not because of his injuries, but because he was unresponsive and authorities believe he ingested some kind of evidence.