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Theft suspect jumps from SUV, dies in Fort Worth pursuit

FORT WORTH -- A woman suspected in a string of thefts died Wednesday evening after she apparently jumped from a moving vehicle in north Fort Worth while being pursued by Cleburne police.

Deborah Diane Britton, also known by the last name Nichols, died at John Peter Smith Hospital Wednesday evening. Cleburne police said initial indications are that Britton, 34, was run over by the Chevy Suburban from which she jumped.

The Suburban, still occupied by a second person, fled the scene.

At the time of her death, Britton was wanted on felony warrants from six area law enforcement agencies.

Police say Britton had been identified as a suspect in several recent thefts, many at churches, day cares and hospitals in area cities, including Fort Worth and North Richland Hills.

"Although Ms. Britton's death was tragic, it was her own actions that precipitated it," Police Chief Terry Powell said in a Cleburne police news release about Britton's death. "All indications are that the detective's actions were both professional and appropriate."

According to the release, Cleburne detectives had gone to an apartment complex in the 6900 block of N. Beach Street in Fort Worth to try to serve felony arrest warrants on identity theft suspects, including Britton.

The detectives were approaching the three suspects, who had just arrived at the complex in the Suburban, when one of the men fled on foot. Britton and the other male suspect, however, got back into the Suburban. As officers attempted to arrest Britton, the woman started the SUV and fled the scene, driving over curbs and grassy areas to elude capture, the release stated.

The release said items were being thrown from the SUV as officers pursued it through residential neighborhoods.

According to a Fort Worth police report, Britton had attempted to jump from the vehicle several times before finally doing so in the 3700 block of Queenswood Court.