A US television network has apologised for showing a man shooting himself in the head on live television.

Fox News on Friday was covering a high-speed chase in Phoenix, Arizona state, using a live helicopter shot when the incident happened.

The man was followed into the desert, when he stopped and ran out, pulling out a handgun to his head and firing.

Fox Anchor Shepard Smith later apologised to viewers for not cutting away.

"We really messed up and we're all very sorry," said anchorman Shepard Smith, who told viewers that a five-second delay in the live feed ought to have enabled the graphic scene to be stopped before going on air.

"That didn't belong on TV," Smith said.

"We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV. And I personally apologize to you
that that happened... That won't happen again on my watch."

Tommy Thompson, police spokesman, said the man was alleged to have stolen the car from a couple at gunpoint outside a restaurant just before 11:00 local time (18:00 GMT).

Police tracked down the car and began pursuit. The driver fired several shots at the police car, but no officers were hurt.

The car travelled west on Interstate highway 10, before turning onto a dirt road.

"He got out of the car and shot himself," said officer Thompson. "Efforts to revive him were not successful and he was dead at the scene. We don't have an ID yet."

Source: Agencies