Officials with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department have released the name of the man accused of stealing three vehicles and leading police from multiple agencies on a high-speed chase through Starke, LaPorte, Porter and Lake Counties Friday afternoon.
Gary Chavez, 57, of Knox, is still in critical condition at Christ Advocate Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. According to police, he drove his vehicle to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center Saturday afternoon, stole a car at gunpoint at 3:41 p.m., took the driver and went to English Lake. Police say he left the vehicle and owner there and stole a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It broke down on State Road 8 near Hebron in front of a house. According to the state police, two men were leaving in a 1988 GMC Sierra pickup truck and stopped to see if he needed help. They called 911 at 4:04 p.m. to report Chavez brandished the weapon and stole their truck. Hebron Police and deputies from the Porter County Sheriff’s Department joined the chase, which continued into Lake County and ended on Interstate 65 when police officers threw out stop sticks to flatten the truck’s tires. Chavez shot himself as officers were approaching, according to information from the Indiana State Police.
After the pursuit ended, deputies in Starke County checked his home in California Township and found a dead woman. Her name and age have not been released, and authorities did not comment on the nature of her relationship to the man. Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells tells WKVI news she was in her late 40s or early 50s. As of Saturday evening, he is still trying to contact her next of kin. Until he does, her name will not be released. Rannells hopes to schedule a forensic autopsy early next week in Fort Wayne. Until then he is not able to comment on how she was killed. Authorities declined comment as to whether Chavez or the deceased woman has a criminal record. We will post updates throughout the weekend if additional information is released.