SOUTH SHORE — Lavonia Noble-King knew something was wrong when a police detective showed up at her home holding her best friend's purse in his hands.
"I said, 'Why do you have Jackie's purse?" Noble-King recounted Thursday morning with a trembling voice. "He said, 'There was an accident.'"
Three blocks away, she learned, Jacqueline Reynolds, 56, had been killed Wednesday after a police squad car hit her car.
Police received a call about an armed home invasion in the nearby Chatham neighborhood, according to Officer John Mirabelli, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. Officers were chasing a car they saw fleeing the scene when they struck Reynolds' car and another vehicle about 10:20 a.m.
Two police officers and Reynolds were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The officers' conditions stabilized, but Reynolds was pronounced dead just after 11 a.m.
Noble-King said the detective did not tell her police were involved in the fatal crash, but she said she later heard from witnesses that the police car crashed into Reynolds' car, causing it to hit another car.
Noble-King said Reynolds usually would have been at work at the time of the crash — but instead was on her way to a funeral for a relative of her ex-husband.
Police said Thursday the accident was under investigation by the Traffic Review Board, which investigates all traffic pursuits. The police SUV had its emergency lights and sirens activated at the time of the crash, police said.
Noble-King said while she knows police were doing their job, she believes the police might have stopped their pursuit if they had been in a residential area in a more affluent neighborhood in Chicago.
She believes the "protocol" is different in the "battle zone" that is her South Shore neighborhood than it is in, say, the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
"They do a lot of things in our neighborhood that they don't do in other neighborhoods," she said. "The protocol is different."
Noble-King lived directly above Reynolds in the three-story apartment building Noble-King owned in the 7800 block of South Phillips Avenue. She said it was "heaven" living so close to the friend she met on her first day of school at Dixon Elementary back in the 1960s.
Walking through Reynolds' tidy apartment Thursday morning, Noble-King pointed to the art in Reynolds' dining room.
She said Reynolds volunteered at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she wanted to one day guide tours as a docent.
"That was her goal, to one day become a docent," Noble-King said, smiling. "She said, 'I'm going to culturalize your a--!'"
Reynolds' kitchen table was full of papers. Reynolds was very involved with a program at her church that allowed children to spend time with their mothers who are incarcerated in a Downstate prison, she said.
Reynolds' living room mantel was full of pictures of her with family and friends. One was of Reynolds running in the Chicago Marathon. Noble-King said her friend worked out every day.
"She was determined that a woman our age did not need to have a belly," Noble-King said. "She was on it, and she looked good."
A cut-out of President Barack Obama stands in the corner. Reynolds considered the president "her boy" because the two were born on the same day, friends said.
Noble-King described her friend as loud, funny, effervescent, and a "lover of the underdog." Above all else, Reynolds was fiercely loyal, she said.
Reynolds never had children of her own, but that did not matter.
"Everybody was her kid. ... To everybody, she was Auntie Jackie," she said.