Authorities have identified the four Indiana police officers who fatally shot a suspected car thief Thursday morning after a hit-and-run crash in the south suburbs led to a chase that crossed the state line three times.
Mark P. Coffey, 33, was shot just after 5:30 a.m. in the 8000 block of Hart Street in Dyer, Indiana, according to the Lake County coroner’s office and Indiana State Police.
On Monday, Indiana State Police identified the officers involved in the shooting as: Victor Zamora, 37, who has worked for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for 13 years; Luke Schreiber, 41, who has worked for the St. John Police Department for 10 of his 18 years in law enforcement; Jacob Patzschke, 25, who has worked for the St. John Police Department for one of his three years in law enforcement; and Daniel Kolodziej, 31, who has worked for the Dyer Police Department for one of his five years in law enforcement.
While police said the events that followed the chase were unclear as they continued to investigate, they said multiple shots were fired and Coffey died at the scene of the shooting.
The chase started just before 5 a.m., when south suburban Crete police were notified of a vehicle being stolen a few blocks outside the village, according to Police Chief James Paoletti.
A description of the stolen Buick Regal was broadcast over police radio and moments later, an officer saw a car matching the description at Steger Road and I-394, Paoletti said. The officer began following and requested backup.
Police tried to approach the stolen car at Sauk Trail and I-394, but the driver took off east on Sauk Trail, Paoletti said. The chase led to the parking lot of a church in Dyer, Indiana, about three or four miles away.
The suspect stopped and officers started talking to him. They ordered him out of the car and he kept making “furtive movements” at his waistband. The suspect suddenly pulled what appeared to be a weapon and pointed it at the officers, Paoletti said. The officers took cover behind their vehicles and ordered him to drop the weapon.
The suspect screamed, “Kill me, kill me,” Paoletti said, then took off out of the parking lot.
He drove to Sauk Village, where he got out of the Buick and jumped into a white Honda Accord, Paoletti said. He appeared to have the keys to the Honda.
Two Crete police units stayed with the Buick, while a third, along with Sauk Village police, followed the Honda, Paoletti said.
When the chase reached Sauk Trail and Jeffrey Avenue, a citizen flagged down officers and said a pedestrian had been struck by the fleeing car, Paoletti said.
The pedestrian, a 47-year-old man, was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition, Paoletti said.
As Crete officers were tending to the injured man, they received word that the suspect had been fatally shot in Dyer, Paoletti said.
In Dyer, officers were chasing the Accord in the 9300 block of Sheffield Avenue, and they later followed the car north into a gas station at the intersection of 81st Street and Hart Street, authorities said. There, it struck another white vehicle before it came to a rest.
In a confrontation that followed, the coroner’s office said Coffey suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at 9:15 a.m. The manner of his death was pending further investigation.
All four of the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with their respective departments’ policies, standard protocol for officer-involved shootings, police said.
Coffey, who lived in south suburban Chicago Heights, had an active warrant for battery and robbery and police considered him to be armed and dangerous. He was also wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet issued by the Illinois Department of Corrections, police said.
Indiana State Police and the Northwest Indiana Major Crime Task Force are investigating.