JASPER COUNTY — A high-speed pursuit along Interstate 65 that started with a carjacking late Friday night ended in a shootout that left the suspect being killed and state trooper injured.
According to a press release issued Saturday morning by the Indiana State Police, the pursuit began at about 10:15 p.m. Friday when the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department received a call of a carjacking at the Pilot Truck Stop in Remington. Police said the suspect, who was later identified as Caine Van Pelt, 23, of Chicago, pointed a gun at the victim’s head while taking his black Mitsubishi vehicle.
A DeMotte police officer spotted the stolen vehicle traveling north on I-65 near the 230-mile marker and attempted to make a traffic stop, but lost sight of the vehicle near the Lowell exit (240-mile marker).
Two ISP troopers in the area, Trooper Dennis L. Griffin and Trooper Alaa Hamed, spotted the stolen vehicle, police said, near mile marker 246 and attempted to make a traffic stop, but the vehicle kept going, prompting a pursuit.
A flat tire later slowed the vehicle, police said, at which time the driver got out and began shooting at troopers, striking Griffin in the “lower extremity.” Police and the suspect exchanged gunfire until the he was struck and killed at the scene.
Griffin was transported to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Crown Point for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. He has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
Van Pelt was pronounced dead at the scene by the Lake County Coroner.
Police are also looking for a second suspect who they believe was parked alongside the stolen Mitsubishi in a Toyota Corolla. The Corolla was later found abandoned at mile marker 202.
Griffin has been with ISP for 1 1/2 years, while Hamed is a 4 1/2-year veteran of the department. Both troopers are currently on administrative duty as per department policy.
Traffic on I-65 and U.S. 231 was at a standstill for hours as police investigated. All lanes on both roads were reopened by 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
Police said Van Pelt was a parolee with the Illinois Department of Corrections. He was serving out the remainder of a three-year sentence for possession of a stolen firearm.