Man wanted in two restaurant robberies crashes car during pursuit

2013-06-05T18:54:00Z 2013-06-05T20:52:22Z Man wanted in two restaurant robberies crashes car during pursuitLauri Harvey Keagle and Chas Reilly Times Staff Writers

A man accused in crimes at two local restaurants allegedly injured an elderly woman while taking her purse, knocked the woman's husband to the ground and later crashed a car during a chase with Merrillville police.

The events started Wednesday morning at Diner's Choice, 3821 W. 37th Ave. in Hobart, when an employee reported a man pointed a pistol at her and demanded her purse, said Merrillville police Detective Cmdr. Robert Wiley.

The employee told police the man fled in a white four-door Oldsmobile after she screamed out she wouldn't give him her purse, Wiley said.

About 8:15 a.m., Hobart police alerted local departments of the situation.

At 8:30, Merrillville police received a report of a strong-armed robbery in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel, 6200 Opportunity Lane in Merrillville.

An 83-year-old woman told police she and her husband were on the patio of the restaurant when she felt someone yanking on her purse.

The woman suffered severe pain to her right shoulder and elbow when she was knocked to the ground as her purse was grabbed.

Her husband chased the person who took it, Wiley said.

The suspect got into the driver's side of a white Oldsmobile. The woman's husband attempted to get into the passenger side of the car, but he was knocked to the ground when the car fled the area, Wiley said.

Merrillville police Officer Joshua Miskus found a car matching the description of the suspect's vehicle and began pursuing it, Wiley said.

Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said the suspect turned around in the Mount Vernon Arms Apartment complex in the 5900 block of Washington Street and started driving east on 61st Avenue with damaged tires.

The suspect crashed on 61st Avenue across from St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, Petruch said.

Miskus and Merrillville police Detective Ray Smith apprehended the man after a brief foot pursuit, Wiley said.

Officers haven't located the weapon reportedly used in the Hobart attempted robbery, police said.

The Merrillville Police Department is handling the investigation of the crimes. Wiley expects to present his findings Thursday to the Lake County prosecutor's office.

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