Teenage girls killed after police unit crashed into their vehicle during high-speed pursuit, witnesses say
UPDATE: Officials told WBRZ that the officer involved in the deadly crash is facing criminal charges and was arrested Sunday night.
Read the full update here.
BATON ROUGE - Two teenage girls were killed when a police unit reportedly crashed into their vehicle during Saturday morning's high-speed, multi-parish chase that ended on I-10 East at Dalrymple.
According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the chase started in the capital city shortly after officers learned Tyquel Zanders broke into a family member's house on Blackwell Drive, then stole one of their vehicles.
A witness shared images of police units chasing the stolen vehicle down Government Street between Acadian and downtown.
At some point in the chase, Zanders led officers into West Baton Rouge Parish, resulting in a deadly crash with an unrelated vehicle.
Officials said the crash happened on LA 1 in Brusly, not far from the city's police station. It claimed the lives of 17-year-old Maggie Dunn and 16-year-old Caroline Gill, who were both students at Brusly High School.
Authorities confirmed Saturday evening that Liam Dunn, Maggie's brother, was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash. The ULL freshman was last reported to be in critical condition.
Sources said the crash involved an Addis police officer. Witnesses claim the officer ran a red light before striking the victims' vehicle and pushing it into the median.
Sunday, the Addis Police Department said the following on social media:
"The Addis PD is deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred. We wish to offer our sincere condolences to the Dunn and Gill families."
18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton tells us, “That cop has a lot of questions to answer pertaining to his speed and sheer negligence. The public can rest assured, we will follow the facts.”
Clayton told The Advocate his office is investigating the unidentified officer and intends to review dashcam footage and communications leading up to the Saturday wreck. He also said this will likely go to a grand jury.
Clayton said the laws surrounding police chases may need to be changed in light of Saturday's crash, and his office would pursue all information before deciding if the Addis officer should be charged, according to The Advocate.
"I want the public to have confidence in its DA's office that we will follow the facts, and we should let the facts lead us to whatever the outcome should be," Clayton said.
The chase ended Saturday back in East Baton Rouge, as police briefly closed I-10 East near Dalrymple, and a handful of officers gathered at the exit. Police units were seen blocking multiple lanes where they appear to have stopped the suspect's vehicle.
Pictures shared with WBRZ show what appeared to be an SUV surrounded by police vehicles in the roadway. BRPD said Zanders was taken into custody at the scene. He faces charges of home invasion, vehicle theft and aggravated flight from officers.
Officials with the WBR Sheriff's Office said Zanders has additionally been charged with two counts of manslaughter for the girls' deaths.
Both east and westbound lanes of I-10 slowed as the activity unfolded, with congestion reaching as far as the Mississippi River Bridge shortly after 1 p.m.