The first of several charges has been filed against the Knox man police say stole two cars in Starke County Friday afternoon, led police on a high-speed chase, stole a third vehicle in Porter County and shot himself after officers in Lake County used stop sticks to flatten the tires of the truck he was driving. Gary Chavez, 57, is still in critical condition at Christ Advocate Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. He’s charged with carjacking as a Class C felony in Porter County. That’s where the 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee police say he stole from a home in English Lake broke down on State Road 8 near Hebron. When two men in a 1988 GMC Sierra pickup truck stopped to see if he needed assistance, Chavez allegedly brandished a gun at them and stole their truck.
After Chavez was apprehended, deputies with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department retraced his path and found his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, 50, of Portage, dead at his rural Knox home. Investigators believe he left his house, drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, pulled a gun on a man in a car in the parking lot, drove from there to English Lake, abandoned that car and the owner and stole the SUV. Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff told WKVI news he anticipates filing charges within the next day or so after he’s reviewed her preliminary autopsy results. Officials in Porter County say additional charges could be filed there as well.