Shoplifters Plowed Into Vehicle During Police Chase, Killing Teen: Authorities

(CBS) — The mayor of Hammond says maybe somebody should have called off a police chase Wednesday evening that began in East Chicago and ended with a fatal wreck in his city.

The vehicle police were pursuing blew through a red light and collided with another car, killing a 13-year-old Whiting girl, Julianna Chambers, and critically injuring her grandmother.

Julianna Chambers (Photo supplied to CBS)

Julianna Chambers (Photo supplied to CBS)

Police in East Chicago say the chase started when a woman tried to steal a case of beer and then told the getaway driver to go.

The driver almost hit an officer as he sped away, police say.

Then the chase crossed over into Hammond. Police there joined in the chase.

“It’s confusing because there’s two departments involved with that situation.  And hindsight being what it is, maybe we should have said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and tried to call the whole thing off because it was getting too dangerous,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott says.

“But that’s Monday morning quarterbacking. These officers have to make decisions in seconds. We get to analyze it for a day and decide what they probably should’ve done. But unfortunately for us, we have a little girl that’s dead.”

Charges were pending against driver Donnell Howard, 31, of Highland, Ind., and 27-year-old Jessica Pichon of East Chicago, authorities said.

Mayor McDermott says it’s mind-boggling to think the tragic event all started with the theft of beer — a misdemeanor.

WBBM was trying to reach East Chicago officials.

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