CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Two people were murdered and an umarked police vehicle was hit by gunfire Wednesday night on the city's east side.
Police were called to East 142nd Street and Harvard for reports of shots fired at around 8:30 p.m., reports state.
Vice detectives in an unmarked vehicle responded, and saw a crowd and vehicles leaving the scene. An SUV was seen driving on East 142nd Street, and an occupant of that vehicle fired multiple shots at the unmarked police vehicle.
The detectives ducked for cover and weren't injured. Four rounds did hit their car.
When additional officers arrived, they found Darien Hayes, 22, lying on the sidewalk bleeding. He was unresponsive and was wearing a ski mask. A rifle magazine was found on him.
Hayes passed away from his injuries.
An unidentified male was found in the driver's seat of a Nissan Rogue. He had gunshot wounds to his head and body, and was pronounced dead on scene. A semi-automatic rifle and a handgun were found in his vehicle.
A computer check of the Nissan revealed that it had been taken in an aggravated robbery earlier in the evening.
The Harvard Wine and Grill, 14201 Harvard, had windows shot out, but no one was injured.
The suspect's vehicle was seen at East 136th and Benwood, and officers tried to stop it. The driver refused to stop, but after a chase, it was stopped at East 55th and Cedar.
Two men were arrested. Two handguns were recovered.
Preliminary information indicates the men arrested had exchanged gunfire with the two victims. Evidence shows over 50 rounds were fired.
The shootout happened as a weekly bible study was wrapping up at nearby Zion Pentecostal Church of Christ.
“We've heard gunfire before, a shot here and there. We have a bar across the street, so I just thought people were celebrating because a party was going on, but then it started to increase, just a barrage for like 10 straight seconds,” the church’s pastor, Bishop C. Wayne Brantley said. “It almost sounded like automatic gunfire, and that's when I ran and the young man who was attending with me ran and hid.”
He said most parishioners were still in the church at the time, and one of their cars was hit in the parking lot.
“We could have easily been dealing with tragedy, with a very tragic situation,” Brantley said, adding that he feels the church plays a critical role by going out into the community to try to prevent this type of violence.
“We've seen the atmosphere around this church change but we think we're a bulwark, a steady influence in the community, and we're going to continue to do that,” Brantley said.
The investigation is still underway.