Police identified the woman as 24-year-old Brooke Lyn Maynard.
It happened as police were chasing a suspected stolen vehicle around 7:45 p.m. on eastbound Club Boulevard toward N. Duke Street, near Northgate Mall.
The suspects "T-boned" Maynard's Hyundai Sonata, killing her.
A third car, a Chevrolet Impala, sustained "collateral damage," police said.
The two women in the Impala sustained minor injuries.
The chase, which lasted about 10 minutes, began when police tried to stop a gray 2007 Honda Accord, which police said had been stolen at gunpoint.
Tommy Bell and Christina Mellino said they saw the police chase while they were walking to their car after dinner.
"They were like swerving and he obviously didn't seem like he had much control over his car because he was going that fast," said Mellino.
Nasty crash here that @DurhamPoliceNC are on scene of here. Multiple officers on scene here. Avoid the area around north gate mall if possible. #ABC11. Gathering information as we speak. @CityofDurhamNC pic.twitter.com/gjQ6CdNooN— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) August 3, 2018
Police said Maynard was a detention officer with the Durham County Sheriff's Office.
Her friend, Chris, placed a flag near where she died. He said the woman leaves behind a young daughter.
"Hug your loved ones, kiss them goodnight, kiss them goodbye because you never know," he told ABC11. "I mean we're a mile from her house."
The sheriff's office issued the following statement on Friday:
The Durham County Sheriff's Office would like to express their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brooke Maynard. Miss Maynard was employed as a Detention Officer in the Durham County Detention Center. She began her career with the Sheriff's Office in November of 2017 and was a recent graduate of the Sheriff's Office Basic Detention Officer Training Academy. Her dedication and hard work in her short time with us will leave a lasting impression on all of her Sheriff's Office family. During this difficult time the Sheriff's Office requests that her family and coworkers be allowed to process the loss of Brooke and grieve in private.
Just a couple of photos from this scene near north gate mall. @DurhamPoliceNC investigating. Right now we know 3 cars were involved and there is one fatality. Three people taken to hospital. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/2gA9AkSJaH— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) August 3, 2018
One suspect was led away in handcuffs. Another suspect was handcuffed and on the ground. They were both taken to the hospital to be checked out.
Durham police said the driver of the stolen Honda will be charged with second-degree murder, felony fleeing to elude causing death, felony death by motor vehicle, failure to stop for a red light, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The passenger will be charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.
No Durham Police Department vehicles were involved in the crash.