A robbery suspect in Watseka, (IL) is dead after triggering a high-speed police chase that ended in White County Thursday evening.
It started with an armed robbery in Watseka. The suspect reportedly hijacked a NAPA truck from a woman making deliveries, took the woman hostage and proceeded into Indiana.
The suspect is now identified as 29-year-old Don Smith of Elkhart, Indiana. The female hostage was treated for an injury, but is OK.
In a press release, Watseka Police Chief Roger Lebeck said it started just before 2:30 pm Thursday. Police were dispatched to the Emerald Valley Farms Office building on Emerald Way, just south of Route 24. Smith was identifed as a male subject walking away from the building. When police attempted to stop him, Smith produced a handgun and fled on foot.
Police stated Smith ran to a nearby car wash, across Route 24, where he took a female hostage at gunpoint. The woman was forced into her Napa Auto Parts delivery truck, the suspect and the woman fleeing from the scene eastbound into Indiana. Police gave chase on Route 24 with the pursuit terminated near the Indiana border.
Chief Lebeck said the Napa truck was spotted in Indiasna headed south of U-S 41. Several units of Indiana law enforcement began a pursuit that ended near Monon, IN.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley told 94.1 WGFA News the pursuit went through Battley Ground and Brookston, past the Reynolds area where the suspect's vehicle was disabled by stop sticks. Fleeing on foot, police exchanged gunfire with Smith, who was shot dead.
No officers were injured. Sgt. Riley said troopers from Lowell and Lafayette will be placed on administrative leave while the shooting incident is investigated.
Riley said the un-identified female hostage was treated for an injury at White Memorial Hospital in Monticello.
Lafayette police were called around 5:30 p.m. to a report of an armed robbery at the Advance America on Elmwood Avenue. Officers said a man displayed a gun during the robbery. Two employees were in the store during the robbery and sustained minor injuries from having their hands bound by the suspect prior to leaving the business. Neither employee required medical attention.
The suspect was described by the employees as a Hispanic male, 5 foot 5 inches to 5 foot 8 inches, skinny build, shaved bald head, late 20s to early 30s in age, wearing dark clothing. The suspect had a woman with him when he arrived at the business. She was believed to be the hostage from the robbery in Illinois.
After the robbery, the suspect and the woman left in the same white truck. The vehicle was later observed by a deputy with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office on N. Ninth Street near Battle Ground. Both the sheriff's office and Indiana State Police pursued the suspect vehicle.
LPD said the pursuit went through Battle Ground and into Brookston where the vehicle was disabled by stop sticks.The suspect ditched the vehicle and proceeded to carjack another. The suspect then headed north on State Road 43 towards Monon. The chase ended just north of Monon.
According to Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley, officers surrounded the vehicle and the suspect pointed his weapon at officers. Riley said that's when the officers fired, killing the suspect. No officers were injured. Riley would not confirm which agenices shot their weapons, but said troopers from Lowell and Lafayette would be put on administrative leave during an investigation.
"There will be a finding one way or the other on how the shooting went down, be justified or [not] justified and then those officers will be put back in duty or whatever happens from there on," said Riley.
The hostage was taken to IU Health White Memorial Hospital where she was treated for superficial injuries and released. She was interviewed by investigators at the White County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Pat Shafer told News 18 she declined to comment about the incident.