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Ex-Colorado convict served time on assault before deadly shootout

The Associated Press Updated: March 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

PHOENIX — An ex-convict who police say killed two people before engaging in a gunbattle with authorities on a Phoenix-area freeway was paroled from a Colorado prison in October after serving 4 ½ years of a roughly six-year sentence on charges that included punching an El Paso County sheriff's deputy in the face.

Andrew J. Rael, 25, died about 3:30 a.m. Monday after leading police on a 30-minute chase on Interstate 10 across much of the Phoenix area.

Department of Public Safety officers, who joined in the pursuit, used tire-puncturing strips to stop Rael's car, authorities said.

Rael immediately exited his vehicle and opened fire on authorities with a semi-automatic rifle before being shot and killed, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said Tuesday.

"It was over pretty quickly. We spike-stripped him. He came out of the vehicle shooting at us, and we returned fire and killed him," Graves said.

Rael was paroled from a Colorado prison Oct. 29 after serving about 4 ½ years. He did not get early release, but instead earned credit toward his sentence while incarcerated, said Mary Carlson, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Rael was granted permission to serve his parole in his native Arizona, where authorities said he had been in full compliance.

Before the shootings Sunday and Monday, "he had no police contact, no reports of drug use, and he had at least part-time work as a landscaper," Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Nick said Tuesday. "He reported every month, never missed."

Rael was imprisoned in Colorado after pleading guilty to several charges stemming from crimes in 2007 and 2008, including at least two assaults, one on a law enforcement officer, according to court officials.

"He punched a deputy in the face," Sgt. Joe Roybal of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, authorities in Arizona say Rael killed a tow-truck driver Sunday and a convenience-store employee early the next morning before leading police on the chase that led to his death.

Michael Psalidas, 49, was fatally shot outside an auto-repair business in Buckeye. Rael and Psalidas reportedly argued about a payment before the shooting, police said.

A few hours later, early Monday morning, Glendale police say Rael shot convenience store clerk Daniel Scott White, 26, following an argument outside the shop. White died later at a hospital from several gunshot wounds.

The investigations into both shootings remain ongoing.

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