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Former city manager kills self following child porn charges

9-2-2011 Colorado:

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. -- A former Fort Morgan city manager took his own life Friday morning after leading authorities on a low-speed chase through Adams County, police said.

Pat Merrill, 48, was charged on Thursday with sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography, FOX31 Denver has learned.

At about 5:20 a.m., a Morgan County deputy requested that Brighton officers check on Merrill’s well-being at a Comfort Inn motel.

He was expected to meet with police Friday morning.

“I'm not sure exactly the basis of his concern, but it was a professional courtesy to another agency to check on this young man and see how he was doing,” said John Bradley with Brighton Police.

When officers arrived at the motel, a woman told them Merrill had left.

“Officers made contact with (Merrill) by telephone, and were able to locate him in his vehicle a short time later,” police said.

Merrill, however, refused to pull over and led officers on a chase that lasted roughly 25 minutes.

He eventually drove to an area behind a local business near Highway 85 and 124th Ave.

“When officers approached the truck after getting no response from the man for several minutes, they discovered him unresponsive in the vehicle with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to Brighton Police.

"No shots were fired by police," Bradley said.

"We are shocked and stunned and our thoughts go out to Mr. Merrill's family," acting Fort Morgan city manager Jeff Wells said.

Merrill stepped down from his position as city manager in January, a move that surprised many in Fort Morgan.

"It was presented in the media as kind of a retirement, stepping down, returning to his home in Southwestern Colorado," said Dr. Ken Keller of Fort Morgan.

Details of the charges against Merrill have not be released. He was due to meet with Fort Morgan police on Friday to discuss the case. ..Source.. by Heidi Hemmat | Jim Hooley

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