Disclaimer: All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

ARABI, La. (WGNO) — Two people from New Orleans are in custody after detectives say they crashed a stolen car in St. Bernard Parish and tried to run away, causing a nearby elementary school to lockdown.

St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann says the suspects, 18-year-old Cornelius Tillman and an unnamed 17-year-old male, were arrested after what started as a traffic stop led to a crash at a business on St. Claude Avenue in Arabi.

Photo courtesy: St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff says around 9:40 a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 17), deputies in the Mereaux area tried to conduct a traffic stop on a white Kia that was reported stolen out of Orleans Parish. That’s when detectives say the driver, later identified as Tillman, refused to stop.

A pursuit of the vehicle lasted several miles, starting near St. Bernard Highway and Judy Drive in Mereaux and ending when the vehicle crashed in the parking lot of an Arabi business.

Detectives say after the car crashed, the two suspects got out of the vehicle and tried to run away from the scene. We’re told the 17-year-old was armed with a handgun. The two were taken into custody after a brief struggle.

Along with the handgun, a Smith & Wesson SD40 pistol was also recovered. As a precaution, the nearby Arabi Elementary School was placed on lockdown. No students were outside at the time of the incident and no one was injured.

Tillman was booked at the St. Bernard Parish Prison on the following charges:

  • Possession of stolen property
  • Flight from an officer
  • Aggravated flight
  • Hit and run

The juvenile was booked into the St. Bernard Parish Juvenile Detention Center, where he faces the following charges:

  • Possession of a firearm by a juvenile
  • Flight from an officer
  • Carrying of a firearm or dangerous weapon in a firearm-free zone

Detectives continue to investigate the incident and are asking anyone with any information to contact the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501 or the Criminal Investigations Bureau’s tip hotline at (504) 271-TIPS or 8477.

Tips can be submitted anonymously to Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans by calling (504) 821-1111 or toll-free at (877) 903-7867. To submit a tip online, click here. You could be eligible for a cash reward.

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