By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – License plate reader technology alerted police officers to a vehicle Nov. 27 that ended in a car chase, crash, gunfire and the discovery of a dead body in the trunk.
The saga began Nov. 18 in Tennessee when relatives reported Eleni Kassa, 31, of Murfreesboro missing when she failed to pick up her daughter from school. Kassa’s body was later found in the trunk of a vehicle subject to a police chase in Dearborn.
The driver of the vehicle, Dominique Hardwick, 36, of Lebanon, Tenn., had been in a relationship with Kassa, and was arrested last August after a domestic argument between the two became physical.
License plate reader technology used by police officers in Ohio and Michigan spotted the vehicle, which was flagged as being wanted in conjunction with an endangered missing person case.
On Nov. 27, police officers in Dearborn initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle near Warren and Wyoming avenues, but Hardwick, who was driving, sped away.
Soon after, Hardwick crashed Kassa’s black 2020 Dodge SRT into a house on Normile Street near Tireman Avenue.
Michigan State Police officials said in a statement that as Dearborn police officers approached the scene on foot, a single gunshot was heard, and the officers fired rounds in response.
Hardwick was later determined to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after she crashed the Dodge and fired shots at pursuing police officers. Kassa’s body was found in the trunk of the Dodge, which was her car.
A third woman, 34, was injured in the crash and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Her name has not been released.
MSP is working the case as an active investigation in conjunction with the Detroit Police Department’s Homicide Task Force.
Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin said he was proud of how his police officers responded, in inclement weather, when they recognized that the vehicle was one that was wanted out of Tennessee.
“It was a very dangerous situation to try to be able to resolve the incident,” he said. “Unfortunately, it ended in tragedy, but I am glad it wasn’t worse than that. We’ll let the investigation play out and we’ll see where it goes from there.”