CHESTERTON – Indiana State Police continue to investigate an officer-involved shooting that followed a wild chase of three Illinois men in a stolen car along the Indiana Toll Road in Porter County on Wednesday afternoon.
Kobe Watson, 22; Chaz Murray, 19; and Armari Lomax, 19, all of Dolton, Illinois, have been charged with resisting law enforcement; while Lomax was also charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to Valparaiso Police. All three are being held in the Porter County Jail, further charges are possible.
At about 2 p.m., police received "several suspicious incidents on the north end of the city involving these subjects," a statement from Valparaiso PD said. "They were observed stealing from multiple vehicles and involved in stealing a second vehicle from Appletree Lane."
In all, about $45,000 in thefts had been reported to police as of Thursday afternoon, "as well as numerous reports of these subjects entering other vehicles," police said.
About half an hour later, an officer saw a vehicle that matched the description traveling on Calumet Avenue and attempted to make a traffic stop, but the car would not stop, continuing northbound to Ind. 49. Valparaiso Police said the suspects were riding in a stolen vehicle.
The vehicle got on the Indiana Toll Road at the Ind. 49 Exit, and went westbound before crashing near the 27.8 mile marker, according ISP Sgt. Ted Bohner. The three suspects then took off on foot into a wooded area north of the Toll Road, near CR-200W.
State Police troopers, FBI and ATF agents; Porter and Lake county sheriff's deputies; K9 units, and officers from Valparaiso, Chesterton, Porter and Burns Harbor began to search on foot, according to Valparaiso Police. The search was focused in the Abercrombie subdivision just north of the Toll Road on Nautica Drive.
According to Porter Police, a command post was set up at a horse stables on CR-1050N, and from there, the homeowner and an officer spotted the men running in a wooded area.
The officer got his K9 from his vehicle and the dog, Kilo, was able to track the suspects, and brought one of them down by jumping on him, a Porter Police report said. The suspect stayed down and was not bitten.
A second suspect was taken into custody a short time later without incident, Bohner said, but the third ran back onto the Toll Road. He was seen running westbound by a maintenance worker who was directing traffic from the original crash, which closed all lanes of westbound I-80/90 for several hours.
The worker was setting up traffic cones when he saw the suspect attempt to get into an occupied vehicle stopped in traffic, then try to get into the driver's seat of the unoccupied maintenance vehicle, Bohner said. The worker grabbed the suspect by the shirt, but he was able to get into the truck.
He put the truck in reverse and quickly backed up, crashing into a semi, Bohner said. He then drove toward the maintenance worker and officers closing in on foot.
"At this time shots were fired by a Porter County Sheriff's deputy and two Indiana State troopers," he said. "The suspect put the truck into drive and drove a short distance westbound before crashing into another semi."
The suspect then got out of the vehicle, jumped into the median, and fled on foot onto CR-200W below the Toll Road, where he was then taken into custody, according to Bohner. He was taken to Methodist Hospital Northlake Campus in Gary, where he was treated and released for non-life-threatening injuries.
Unconfirmed reports say the suspect was shot, but police did not confirm that information.