Shoplifting suspect who led police chase found dead in jail cell

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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — A man who led police on a chase across Brunswick County after they confronted him about a shoplifting allegation was found dead this morning in his jail cell.

The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office says at about 11:14 a.m., Antonio Michael Rago, 33, was found unresponsive in his cell. Investigators say it appears he killed himself.

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The Sheriff’s Office says it has notified the State Bureau of Investigation, which is standard procedure. The SBI will conduct a death in custody investigation at the request of Sheriff John Ingram and District Attorney Jon David.

The BCSO Office of Professional Standards will also conduct a separate internal investigation. During the initial stages of these investigations, there have been no indication of foul play, nor have there been any apparent violation of BCSO policies and procedures, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Monday afternoon Southport Police tried to confront Rago and Elizabeth Ashley Ventiquattro about a shoplifting call at Walmart, but the two got into their SUV. That’s when police say the suspects tried to run over one officer and ram the car of another. Officers were able to get out of the way, but the suspects took off. They eventually ran off the road near Shallotte. The crash and arrest were caught on dashcam video

Rago had been in custody since Tuesday, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said, after being treated at a hospital Monday evening for injuries suffered in the crash. He faced several felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, larceny and fleeing to elude arrest.