CROWN POINT — Teens dove out of the way and a man was nearly mowed down in his own yard during a high-speed chase that tore through a quiet Crown Point neighborhood, police said.
Before smashing through a homeowner's fence and being pinned by the Lake County Sheriff's squad car, the driver allegedly threw a brick of cocaine out of his window.
Jermell Dupree Anderson, 42, of Gary, was charged on Thursday with dealing in cocaine, possession of cocaine, two counts of resisting law enforcement and two counts of reckless driving, Lake Criminal Court records show.
Police accounts show the pursuit began with a minor traffic stop and quickly escalated into a chaotic chase.
At 3:37 p.m. Tuesday, a Lake County Sheriff's detective was on patrol in an unmarked police car when he saw a red Mazda following a semi too close on northbound Interstate 65 near the Lake County and Newton County line, court records said.
When Anderson saw the detective, he allegedly tried to hide his face with his hand and lean back out of view. After the detective activated his lights and stopped the Mazda, Anderson appeared to be visibly shaking and heavily breathing.
The detective told Anderson the infractions were minor and he would be issuing a warning. Before he could tell the driver of the infractions he committed, Anderson said his driver's license was expired.
His hand trembling, Anderson dropped his I.D. card and the detective told him he could relax as it was just a minor traffic offense.
As Anderson's breathing became more labored, the detective asked Anderson if he was OK. Anderson said the car was a rental and the detective asked him to step out of his vehicle while he conducted a license and car paperwork check.
Instead, Anderson looked over his shoulder, put the car in drive and sped away, leading a high-speed chase on northbound I-65.
He took the Lowell exit and nearly hit a construction truck after disregarding a stop light, court records alleged. He then sped back onto the I-65 northbound exit from Route 2, weaving in and out of traffic at dangerous speeds with multiple squad cars in pursuit.
Anderson took an exit into Crown Point, speeding northbound on U.S. 231, allegedly blowing through the stop light at the Broadway intersection and nearly hitting another car.
Nearly hitting multiple vehicles, Anderson sped to the intersection of Indiana Avenue and U.S. 231 and blew through another stop light, almost causing another collision.
Now northbound on Indiana Avenue, Anderson sped to North Street again, almost striking multiple vehicles, police said.
As Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez came in pursuit of the Mazda on North Street, Anderson turned to cut through a residential lawn on the northwest corner of North and Church streets.
Three teenagers were standing in the lawn and had to jump out of the way to avoid the vehicle barreling toward them.
The fleeing driver narrowly missed the teens and almost collided with Martinez head-on, court records alleged.
Taking over the pursuit, Martinez followed Anderson to the dead end of Church Street. In an attempt to escape, the Mazda turned into a yard in the 400 block of Church Street, where the homeowner was standing in his driveway, police said.
The Crown Point man told The Times he heard the loud squealing of tires before he saw the car take a sharp turn into his side yard, colliding with a curb so hard the front tires lifted off the ground.
At one point, the Mazda was pointing right at the man when it suddenly straightened out and slammed into his fence. The man told police he saw Anderson throw a paper bag out his window right before crashing through the fence.
Martinez then pinned the Mazda against the man's garage using his squad car, ending the high-speed chase.
Once Anderson was out of the car, he allegedly continued to fight with officers, disregarding commands and attempting to reach into his waist. Officers were able to handcuff Anderson and he was taken into custody of medics and refused medical attention, court reports said.
Police found the paper bag, which contained a vacuum-sealed, white brick-like substance that police confirmed as being a 137 grams of cocaine.
Anderson is in custody and his bail is set at $60,000, court records show.