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STARKE Co. â€” One woman is dead and a 57-year-old man has been
hospitalized from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the face that occurred when police disabled the vehicle he was traveling in after a high speed chase that began in Starke County, involving three carjackings and a hostage situation ended in Lake County.
Indiana State Police Detective Chris Campione revealed that the suspect had allegedly been involved in an earlier homicide in Starke County.
The Starke County Sheriff's Department received a call at approximately 3:48 p.m. Central time Friday afternoon from a man claiming he had been abducted and his car hijacked by a man at gunpoint in the parking lot of Bailey's Discount Center in North Judson. The caller said the alleged gunman took him to a home in English Lake where he hijacked another vehicle and left him behind.
Officers learned during their initial investigation that the man had driven a vehicle to Bailey's Discount Center, which he abandoned there in the lot. Inside the vehicle, driven by the alleged gunman, was evidence that led police to a residence in California Township in Starke County. Upon arrival at the residence, officers discovered a deceased woman.
According to Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells, the woman was in her late 40s, early 50s.
Cause of death is pending a forensic autopsy, which is expected to be scheduled next week in Fort Wayne.
Starke County Prosecutor Nicolas Bourff was contacted after the woman's body was discovered and a search warrant was requested from Starke County Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall to search the residence and the vehicles involved in the Starke County carjackings and high-speed chase.
The Starke County Police, Knox Police, North Judson Police and Indiana State Police, Lowell District assisted in the investigation at the Starke County level.
The alleged suspect left the Starke County area in a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and traveled west on S.R. 8. Indiana State Police report the Jeep broke down in the 200 block of west S.R. 8 in Porter County.
Two men, in a 1988 GMC Sierra pickup, were leaving a residence in the location where the jeep broke down and stopped to ask the alleged suspect if he needed their assistance. The men were told by the suspect that he was armed and to surrender their vehicle. The alleged carjacker did not harm either man.
Porter County Police received a call Friday evening at about 4:04 p.m. Central time reporting the carjacking on S.R. 8.
The Sierra pickup was spotted by the Hebron Police at S.R. 8 and 600 South. The officer gave chase and was joined by the Porter County Sheriff's Department shortly after.
The alleged suspect traveled over several county roads before crossing into Lake County, where he headed west on 109th. The Lake County Sheriff's Department, along with their aircraft, the Eagle One, joined in the chase.
At Main and 109th, the Crown Point Police Department became involved and attempted to disable the vehicle by throwing out stop sticks.
The suspect hit the sticks, which deflated two of the tires on the vehicle he was traveling in.
The Indiana State Police shut down the 109th interchange and I-65 during the pursuit.
The suspect jumped on I-65 south and traveled north toward exit 109. In the process of attempting a U-turn to go south on I-65, the suspect lost control of his vehicle and became stuck in gravel.
Police began to approach the Sierra at which point the driver turned his gun on himself and fired once.
The suspect was transported to Saint Anthony's Hospital in Crown Point and later airlifted to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, where he is listed in critical condition.
Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff said the suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Name of the deceased person is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The suspect's name is also pending notification of family.
Numerous Police agencies assisted in this high-speed pursuit, which crossed over four counties: The North Judson Police Department, Starke County Sheriff's Department, Knox City Police, La Porte County Police, Hebron Police, Porter County Sheriff's Department, Crown Point Police, the Lake County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police, Lowell District.
A full story of details that were available at press time will run Saturday morning in the weekend edition of the Pilot News.
Ann Wojas, Public Information Office Indiana State Police, contributed to this story.