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Woman involved in crash with carjacking suspect before he was shot by police: 'I was praying'

Posted: 9:17 PM, Dec 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-27 21:19:00-05

LAWRENCE, Ind. -- In a terrifying turn of events, a normal drive home turned into a nightmare situation for a Lawrence woman on Tuesday. 

Nikki Epperson said she was heading home from working her shift at the VA around 12:45 p.m. when she first heard the sirens. 

Seconds later, Epperson said a speeding Mustang slammed into the side of her Chevy Malibu at the intersection of 46th Street and Mitthoefer Avenue. 

"I was screaming because I knew she was coming," said Epperson. "There wasn't anything I could do."

The driver of that Mustang, Jesse Scarsbrook, was leading police on a chase after robbing a nearby business. 

"All I could remember was when I looked up, the man, he jumped out of the car and grabbed his gun and grabbed his cell phone, darted across Mitthoefer and the police were telling him to stop," said Epperson. 

Epperson said she ducked down into her car and prayed as Scarsbrook started firing at police over the top of her car. 

READ | Man shot, killed by Lawrence police identified

"The first thing that came to my mind was my kids - my mother - I was praying," said Epperson. 

After firing shots at police, Epperson said she watched Scarsbrook get into the vehicle in front of her with two women inside of it. One of those women got out while Scarsbrook held a gun to the second woman's head and then they drove away. 

Police say Scarsbrook led them on a brief chase - captured partly on the surveillance video below - before crashing into another vehicle and opening fire at officers again near the intersection of Pendleton Road and Post Road. 

 

 

 

Scarsbrook was fatally injured in that exchange. 

Epperson said she's grateful to be alive, but with her car stuck at the crime lab - and likely totaled - she isn't sure how long she'll be without a way to get to work.

"I'm a single mom, I have three kids. I work. That's my transportation," said Epperson. "To get to and from work to provide for my kids - and I feel like that was taken from me." 

Epperson went to the hospital after the crash and was treated for bruised ribs but is otherwise okay. The two women in the vehicle Scarsbrook car-jacked are also okay. 

The three officers who exchanged gunfire with Scarsbrook have all been placed on administrative leave. 

The shooting remains under investigation by the Lawrence Police Department and Indiana State Police.