Suspects fleeing a gunpoint robbery in Harlem plowed into a van on a crowded street, sparking a crash that left an elderly nun dead and four others injured, police said.


The grisly chain of events began after a 21-year-old man, reportedly a Columbia University student, was robbed around 9 a.m on Lenox Avenue between 122nd and 123rd streets. He called the police, who then chased three suspects in a blue crossover wagon. When officers pulled the car over on 141st Street they arrested William Robbins, the 18-year-old driver. When Robbins stepped out of the car another passenger slid into the driver’s seat and sped off down Lenox Avenue.


As the driver approached 122nd Street he swerved around a street sweeper and flew through a red light slamming into a minivan and three pedestrians, including Sister Mary Celine Graham, an 83-year-old member of the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary.


Two teen suspects kicked the battered wagon doors open and ran down West 122nd Street. Police were searching for them last night.


Residents described a chaotic scene. “My whole building shook,” said Ruth Dolphin, 45, who lives around the corner. She rushed outside. “I saw them put a lady in the ambulance. ... It was awful.”