Assault suspect out on bond kills self during police chase

UPDATED: SUNDAY, JAN. 1, 2012, 5:48 P.M.

A North Idaho man out of jail on bond for allegedly trying to light his wife on fire shot himself to death late Saturday during a police chase.

Deputies caught up with Daniel Joe Zehm’s car on Fernan Lake Road after relatives called just before 11 p.m. and said he had his estranged wife, Sondra Zehm, and a gun and was heading toward Kellogg, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Zehm, 52, fled toward Coeur d’Aene when deputies tried to stop him, officials said. Sondra Zehm, 58, jumped out of the moving car but did not need medical attention.

State troopers and Coeur d’Alene police joined the pursuit, and Zehm’s front tires were flattened by a spike device near Fernan Village. He fatally shot himself as he drove under the Interstate 90 overpass into Coeur d’Alene, sheriff’s officials said.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will investigate the incident because of the involvement of the three North Idaho law enforcement agencies

Zehm, of Dalton Gardens, was arrested in November after police said he doused his wife with gasoline and tried to light her on fire. He was released from jail on $200,000 bond for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery, and was prohibited from contacting his wife.

Dale Zehm, cousin of Otto Zehm, who died after a confrontation with Spokane police in 2006, said he doesn’t know Daniel Zehm and doesn’t believe they are related.

“If he is, he’s a very distant cousin,” Dale Zehm said.

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