Investigators have identified the driver who fatally shot himself early Saturday morning after police pursued him into the parking lot of the Cranberry Commons shopping center as 19-year-old Lagene Lawson, of New Castle.
“The driver refused to stop for the officer and was pursed into Cranberry Township,” Mascellino said in a statement. “Cranberry Township police officers were approaching the area of Route 228 to assist the Adams Township officer when the vehicle turned into the Cranberry Commons shopping center.”
After entering the shopping center, the driver fired a single gunshot and fatally wounded himself while his vehicle was still moving, Mascellino said. The vehicle crashed into the store, causing extensive damage, according to police.
Officers on the scene extinguished a small fire that erupted under the vehicle after the crash.
Investigators were not able positively identified the driver of the vehicle or determine why he fled from police in Adams Township Saturday morning. Additional agencies were assisting police to identify the driver and notify his family.
According to the New Castle News, Lawson was wanted in connection with a drive-by shooting near St. Paul Baptist Church in July. District Judge Jennifer L. Nicholson issued a warrant for Lawson’s arrest on charges of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person in the incident, according to online court records.
The Lane Bryant store was closed Saturday and damage there is being assessed. A store employee, who declined to identify herself, said there is no timetable for the store's reopening.
The employee said the store's manager learned of the incident shortly after the crash because an automatic alarm sounded in the store.
The car, which has been removed from the scene, crashed through the right side of the glass front entrance and damaged everything in its path—including clothes, display racks and fixtures—before coming to a stop in the middle of the store.
A long oil stain and bits of broken glass littered the sidewalk outside the store Saturday morning. A glass repair company has since been sent to replace the window. The employee said she was thankful no one was inside the building when the vehicle crashed into it.
Saturdays typically are busy days for the women's retail store, she said.
"I'm very happy this happened at 3:30 in the morning and not at 3:30 in the afternoon," she said.
Cranberry Police continue to investigate the incident. Check back with Cranberry Patch for updates to this story.