GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With three teenagers already arrested after an armed carjacking Thursday, the Grand Rapids Police Department was still looking for a fourth suspect Friday.
The police chief said it’s fortunate that no one was seriously injured in the carjacking or the crash with a police cruiser that followed it. The two teenage girls who were carjacked said they thought they were about to die.
The carjacking happened Thursday afternoon as 17-year-olds Gabrielle Furniss and Kayla Lepage, visiting Grand Rapids from the other side of the state, stopped to check their GPS in the area of Richmond Street NW and Muskegon Avenue. Furniss was driving her father’s car.
“So we were lost and we went around these two streets and I parked on one of them, and those kids came up to my car and knocked on the window and they showed that they had a gun and they tapped it on the car,” said Furniss.
Four suspects surrounded the car and told the girls to open the door and take them to a Speedway gas station nearby.
“We were like, ‘We can’t.’ I was like, ‘This isn’t my car, I can’t open the door,’” Furniss said.
That’s when the teens started making threats.
“They ended up saying that we had 15 seconds to open the door or he was going to light it all up,” said Furniss.
“Both of them said that the 15 seconds is up and if I don’t open the door they’ll stick the gun through the window and shoot me there,” Furniss recounted. “I said, ‘We’re not about to get killed,’ so I unlocked the door and they got in.”
Furniss started driving where the teens directed her to go when she heard a clicking noise.
“I heard him do something and so I looked back and he’s like, clicking back the gun and I jumped over and then he put it up to my head and he told me to stop the car so I did. Then he told me to put it in park so I did, and he told me to get out and then he put the gun on her (Lepage’s) head and told her the same thing.”
Lepage said in that moment, she thought it was all over.
“I thought I was going to die,” Lepage said. “When they clicked the gun to my neck, that’s when I thought it was going to be over.”
Furniss reached back for her phone, but the teens told her to leave it and then asked for her password. She told them.
“I turned and I realized the other one had a gun on the back of my head the whole time, and so then I got out of the car, we both did, and then we ran across the street. They drove off,” said Furniss.
They saw a woman walking to her house and asked her to call police.
When the 911 call came in, officers began looking for the SUV. Not long after, it crashed into a patrol vehicle on Douglas Street NW near Indiana Avenue.
“This carjacked vehicle came out of an alley at an extremely high rate of speed,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said. “The officer had no chance to veer, no chance to take remedial measures whatsoever, was struck so hard that it lifted the vehicle up, pushed it on its side, pushed it into a parked vehicle.”
Winstrom said the crash could have caused serious injury, but the officer who was driving will be OK.
“I watched the body-worn camera video and it actually it made me tear up because you could see the officer never saw that vehicle coming,” Winstrom continued. “The airbags deployed. The car almost flipped over. And we’re talking just a very small bit of difference could have made the difference between whether this was just a very bad accident or a fatal accident.”
Video from a doorbell camera in the neighborhood showed the three young men running away.
One was quickly arrested. The other two went inside St. James Apartments. Officers surrounded the building and the two surrendered.
“We’ve got two 16-year-olds and we’ve got a 17-year-old and unfortunately all three of them have extensive felony criminal histories, so they’re obviously headed down a bad path,” Winstrom said.
As for Furniss and Lepage, it’s a day they’ll never forget.
“I didn’t even think I was going to make it home,” said Furniss.
“I will never go up there (to Grand Rapids) again, probably, alone,” said Lepage, who said she grew up in Grand Rapids.
Police said they found a gun and stolen property in the apartment.
Anyone with information about the fourth suspect is asked to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.
— News 8’s Anna Skog contributed to this report.