EDINBURGH — Police chased four people accused of stealing about 40 purses from the Edinburgh outlet mall in a high-speed pursuit, including through Bartholomew County, that involved six enforcement agencies.
The four suspects were caught Thursday night near the intersection of State Road 46 and State Road 135 in Brown County after their car went airborne over an embankment and landed in a ditch, Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann said.
The driver, Juwan Williams, 23, Nashville, Tennessee, is being held in lieu of $22,500 bond in the Bartholomew County Jail on preliminary felony charges of theft, resisting law enforcement and corrupt business influence, jail officials said.
Benji Amos, 20, and Tiara Moore, 23, who also are both from Nashville, Tennessee, face preliminary charges of theft and corrupt business influence, but were at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment Friday, Brown County sheriff’s deputies said.
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Mann said Amos and Moore will be taken to the Bartholomew County Jail after being released from the hospital.
A 17-year-old juvenile from Memphis, Tennessee, who was in the vehicle, is being held in the Bartholomew County Youth Services Center, Mann said.
The chase began at about 8:15 p.m. Thursday when Edinburgh officers Robert Crocker and Aaron Robinson were sent to the Michael Kors store at Edinburgh Premium Outlets after being notified about individuals who had entered the store, grabbed purses and shoes valued at more than $10,000 and fled in a red Camry with Tennessee plates, Mann said.
Robinson saw the Camry do a U-turn to try to avoid him, but the Camry didn’t stop and fled south on U.S. 31, exiting on southbound I-65, Mann said.
A high-speed pursuit began and eventually involved the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Columbus Police Department, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Brown County Sheriff’s Department and Nashville, Indiana, Police Department, as the car traveled through their jurisdictions.
Robinson warned officers that the Camry driver appeared to be attempting to cause an accident with other drivers, Mann said. Stop sticks were deployed but officers were unable to stop the vehicle as it continued down I-65 to the Columbus exit, where, from the left lane, it went across all lanes of traffic to exit to westbound State Road 46, Mann said.
The pursuit reached speeds up to 122 miles per hour on State Road 46 near the Brown County State Park north entrance, Brown County sheriff’s deputies said.
The Camry turned southbound onto Hawthorne Drive and into Willow Manor Senior Apartments, where Deputy Josh Stargell’s vehicle was nearly hit head-on, Brown County deputies said.
Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Holderness saw the near hit and struck the Camry with his patrol car, Brown County deputies said. Holderness was injured in the collision and treated at Columbus Regional Hospital before being released, deputies said.
The Camry continued and drove through the yard at Hawthorne Hills Senior Apartments, striking a wooden flower box before jumping the curb and returning to State Road 46, traveling at more than 100 miles per hour, Brown County deputies said.
The Camry then hit a 2003 Honda Pilot at the intersection of State Road 46 and State Road 135 South, just west of Gnaw Bone, causing the Camry to go airborne over a steep embankment and land in a ditch by the side of the road, Mann said. The occupants of the Pilot were not injured.
All four individuals in the Camry were taken to Columbus Regional Hospital to be checked, Mann said. Brown County deputies said Amos had a broken back and Moore had a severe hand injury and were later transported to Methodist.
Stargell also was taken to Columbus Regional and was treated and released after falling when going down the side of the embankment to reach the car, deputies said.
Mann said one of the reasons the pursuit continued was that the description of the vehicle and occupants matched descriptions of earlier reports of similar shoplifting incidents.
“The flagrant disregard for safety that was displayed by the offenders coupled with the knowledge that the vehicle matched one described in continuing crimes were aggregating reasons to continue the pursuit,” Mann said.