SKOKIE, Ill. (WLS) -- Police in north suburban Skokie are looking for five suspects at the center of a crime spree that began with a stolen car in west suburban Elmhurst and then a retail theft at Old Orchard Mall before they stole another car at gunpoint from a 13-year-old student and her mother in the Niles North High School parking lot, fled, then crashed the second vehicle and set it on fire.
Police said just before 1 p.m. they were alerted to a retail theft at the Nordstrom in Old Orchard Center. Witnesses told police they saw five males running out of Nordstrom with purses in hand.
Police said those suspects got into a stolen silver Audi and tried to flee, but crashed into another vehicle on the west side of the mall.
Elmhurst police said the silver Audi had been stolen from the 800-block of North Addison Street. Police said the keys had been left in the ignition, and the owner left a loaded .380 caliber handgun in the car.
Police said the suspects abandoned the Audi and at least one ran to the parking lot of Niles North High School where they stole a Jeep at gunpoint.
"I just thought, is this real? Is this actually happening? Why did this happen to us?" said the 13-year-old girl inside the car. ABC7 Eyewitness News is protecting her identity.
The girl spoke to ABC7 with her parents about the encounter that left her shaken.
"He came up to my mom and started pulling her out of the car, telling her to get out and leave everything. He was pointing a gun at her head," the girl said.
The girl and her mother had just left a meeting when they were met by the gunman.
"I was yelling at the guy to don't hurt her," she said. "I thought, is he going to kill her? Is he going to kill me?"
School officials said that because the suspects immediately fled school property in the Jeep, the school was not placed on lockdown. Police described that suspect as a black male, over 6 ft. tall, with a thin build and who was bald and wearing a black coat. Police did not release descriptions of any of the other suspects.
The stolen Jeep then picked up the rest of the suspects before fleeing southbound on I-94. Police found the car in a parking lot near Cicero Avenue and Peterson Avenue in Chicago, abandoned and apparently set on fire.
Destroyed in the backseat were the girl's book bag full of school supplies and the computer she uses for class.
"He took everything that we had and just burned it all," she said. "The only good thing is that he let me go and didn't just kill me right there."
Skokie police, with assistance from Lincolnwood police and Chicago police, searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects, who remain at large.
An investigation involving police from at least three departments is ongoing. If you have any information about the incident, or if you were a witness it, contact Skokie police at 847-982-5900.