Police look for suspects after online sale ends in manhunt

Police responded late Thursday to an ecommerce exchange gone wrong.

At 6:56 p.m., Whiteland police were called to the 700 block of Hummingbird Lane on a report of shots fired.

When officers arrived on the scene, they learned a juvenile attempted to purchase an item through OfferUp, a marketplace with an emphasis on in-person transactions. But instead of buying a used cell phone, the juvenile was robbed, said Rick Shipp, Whiteland police chief.

The suspects took the juvenile’s money and attempted to flee by car, but the driver struck a fire hydrant and utility box, disabling the vehicle, Shipp said.

Four suspects in the car field on foot and a neighbor chased them through yards and a field near the home. During a brief pursuit by the neighbor, one of the suspects fired a shot from a handgun into the air but no one was injured, he said.

Whiteland police, along with officers from Bargersville, Franklin, Greenwood and New Whiteland, as well as the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, searched the area for about two hours, during which time residents were urged to stay inside.

Police set up a perimeter and searched the area with on-the-ground help from Franklin, Greenwood and sheriff’s office K-9s, while Bargersville police set up an aerial search via drone, Shipp said. With help from the K-9s, police retraced the suspect’s steps

About 10 p.m., police told residents via social media there was no longer an immediate threat, signaling the pursuit had been called off.

“We ask that everyone remain vigilant and keep reporting suspicious activity in the area,” Whiteland Police said in a tweet.

During the pursuit, residents called in several tips and attempted to help police locate the suspects, according to Twitter.

Whiteland police are still investigating and no arrests have been made. The department is following up on several leads and developing a description of the suspects via surveillance footage from nearby homes, Shipp said.

He cautioned residents against meeting strangers at their homes to buy or sell items. Residents should meet at a safe, public area, such as a police station, when arranging these types of transactions, he said.

“You don’t know who you are dealing with on the internet,” Shipp said. “You shouldn’t have them come to your house.”