May 09–DECATUR — A Decatur woman died early Sunday after her vehicle collided with an Illinois State Police squad car rushing to assist in the hunt for a Mahomet suspect who had allegedly shot and wounded a police officer.
State Police said the trooper was northbound on Oakland Avenue at 11 p.m Saturday with lights and siren activated on his way to Interstate 72 when Kelley E. Wilson allegedly pulled out in front of him at the intersection with Harrison Avenue. Police say the squad car was unable to avoid striking the driver’s side of Wilson’s vehicle, the impact of the collision causing massive damage as it injured both drivers.
Wilson was rushed to Decatur Memorial Hospital, where the 26-year-old mother of two was later pronounced dead at 1:07 a.m. Sunday. The 53-year-old trooper was hospitalized, and an update on his condition was not available Sunday night.
Wilson was alone in the vehicle.
The crash remained under investigation Sunday as police from multiple jurisdictions continued their hunt for the gunman. State Police director Leo Schmitz issued a statement Sunday expressing remorse for Wilson’s death: “At this difficult time, the Illinois State Police extends its sincerest condolences to her family and continues to investigate this crash,” Schmitz said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and the ISP trooper.”
The gunbattle in Mahomet that had provoked a wide police response involved a suspect later identified as Dracy C. Pendleton, 35, of Bellflower, who police continued to hunt Sunday and described as “armed and dangerous.”
Mahomet police say Pendleton had been pulled over in the village about 10:45 p.m for a minor traffic offense. It’s not clear exactly what happened next, but at some point, a physical confrontation ensued with Mahomet police officer Jeremy Scharlow, who received a blow to the head and tried to subdue Pendleton with a shot from a stun gun.
Mahomet Police Chief Mike Metzler, quoted in local media, said Pendleton then opened fire with a handgun, hitting Scharlow in the arm. Scharlow returned fire and likely hit the suspect; bloodstains were found in a nearly house into which he ran. He came outside again with a rifle believed to be an AK-47 and opened fire again before fleeing in a truck.
That vehicle was later found crashed into the gates of a business near Mahomet called Mid-America Sand & Gravel. A white pickup truck is now missing from the business, and Mahomet Police say they believe Pendleton stole it to make his escape.
Scharlow was released after treatment at a hospital.
State Police said Pendleton is being sought for the attempted murder of Scharlow, 35, and have warned the public to be on their guard. Police believe Pendleton may be forced to try and seek treatment for his gunshot wound.
An extended family member told The Associated Press that Pendleton had recently moved out of his home after separating from his wife.
Jack Dollahon said that Pendleton — his grandson’s half brother — works as a contractor and is a father of two sons, both younger than 2.
Pendleton is described as 5 feet 10-inches tall, 155 pounds, with blue eyes and blond hair. Anyone with information about him can call 217-384-TIPS or go to www.373tips.com.
By Tony Reid, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.
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