An 18-year-old boy is dead after allegedly stealing a tip jar from a Gwinnett County pizza shop and crashing his car while trying to get away from police.
Gwinnett officers found the teen’s car upside down and almost fully submerged in a retention pond off Steve Reynolds Boulevard and Pavilion Place on Sunday night. The driver, identified by police as Jaylen Purge of Duluth, was pulled from the vehicle and taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Officers had been pursuing the car since it left the parking lot of the Italian Pie restaurant on Beaver Ruin Road just outside Lilburn about 6 p.m., but they lost sight of it when it went off the road and into a wood line on Steve Reynolds Boulevard, police said in a news release.
Juan Angeles, the owner of the restaurant, told Channel 2 Action News he and his brother chased the teen through the parking lot before he drove away.
“He took the tip jar, and I said, ‘Wait,’” Angeles said. “I tried to chase him to stop him, and he drove away so fast, he almost ran over me.”
The Gwinnett officer saw the commotion in the parking lot.
“Believing a crime had just occurred, the officer began to follow the vehicle and give out information to other responding officers,” police spokesman Det. David Smith said. The vehicle did not stop when the officer tried to pull it over, he said.
When they found the car after the crash, Smith said officers made every attempt to get to Purge before rescue crews with Gwinnett County fire arrived. The accident is still under investigation.
According to Channel 2, Purge was just released from jail last week after he allegedly rammed a Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy with his car during another chase in November.
Detectives are working to gather details in the alleged robbery investigation. Angeles told Channel 2 the tip jar contained only about $100 cash.
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