SHELBY, N.C. -- A police pursuit led to a crash that killed two people and injured a child at Shelby s downtown square Saturday, as hundreds of people attending an arts festival looked on in horror.
The crash at the intersection of Lafayette and Marion Streets is adjacent to the new Earl Scruggs Center on the courthouse square, where an arts festival is taking place this weekend.
They struck at 60 miles an hour -- right in the side, said James Love, who witnessed the crash. The car flew into the sidewalk and stopped.
Shelby police said an officer attempted to stop Demetrist Lendell Roberts, 34, for speeding on Dixon Blvd around 1 p.m. Police said Roberts turned onto W. Marion Street and continued towards downtown, about two miles away. The officer followed.
A statement from Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford said the officer called off the pursuit as the cars neared downtown because of traffic.
They were going about 80 miles an hour -- lights, sirens -- they swerved around us you know, said Love, who was just a few blocks from the intersection where the crash happened. There's no denying it was a chase.
Police said Roberts sped through a red light at Lafayette Street and hit a car coming through the intersection.
The two people in the car were killed, Dorman Keith Pompey and Frances Parks Pompey of Lawndale. Officials say the 55-year-old couple had their grandchild in the car. The child was thrown from the car and injured. Police have not released their names.
Witnesses said Roberts jumped from his car and tried to run, but bystanders tackled him and he was arrested.
He did flee and had some good Samaritans were able to take him down, said Laura Ward, who was at the art festival and witnessed the crash.
She said dozens of people ran to help the boy and tried to help the couple in the car.
It was really awesome to see our town kind of jump together in a situation where we had a festival going on people that were able to help out, said Ward.
But Love wonders if it had to happen at all.
A terrible thing, just don't make no sense -- chasing somebody in town like that, he said.
Roberts is charged with two counts of second degree murder, two counts of felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired, felony speeding to elude arrest, speeding, and driving with a revoked license.
He is in the Cleveland County jail with no bond.