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HAMMOND — A self-admitted Latin Dragons gang member from East Chicago is accused of trying to intimidate a witness in the Sept. 30 gang shooting of a Hammond man. 

Court records show Joseph Roggenkamp, 20, is a known associate of Manuel "Smiley" Diaz, 26, of Hammond, who was indicted last fall on a charge of murder in aid of racketeering, alleging he killed Charles Berrios Sr., 50.

"Since the arrest and charging of Diaz, there has been a consistent pattern of harassment and attempted witness tampering by Roggenkamp and other criminal associates of Diaz," a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday states. 

The witness's house was shot up on Oct. 7, records state. On Nov. 2, Roggenkamp posted to Facebook — twice in less than half an hour — that he was armed with a gun and "posted up" on the block where the witness lived with the intent to gun him down, records state. 

On Nov. 27, Roggenkamp allegedly tagged Diaz's Facebook profile to a post that called out the witness for being a snitch.

He further wrote, in his own words, that true gang members do not cooperate with law enforcement but instead seek revenge with guns, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.

Two photos were attached to the post — one that shows Diaz in his prison uniform and a second one highlighting statements the witness gave to police after the Sept. 30 shooting. 

Investigators said they believed Roggenkamp's social media posts constitute the threat of physical force against the witness "with the intent to influence, delay, or prevent" testimony at Diaz's trial or to "cause or induce (the witness) to withhold testimony ... or be absent" during court proceedings. 

A federal grand jury last year indicted Diaz, a Latin Dragons gang member, on allegations he intentionally killed Berrios and acted with reckless disregard for human life, court records show. 

Diaz is accused of firing a single shot from his revolver at a moving vehicle and killing the driver, Berrios, after a brief confrontation at a gas station between Diaz and another individual. 

Berrios was reportedly not the initial intended target.

According to court records, he was shot by Diaz while intervening and trying to place distance between Diaz's vehicle and the individual Diaz was targeting in another vehicle.

Detectives say Diaz's shooting was "for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining or increasing position in the (Latin Dragon Nation gang)," court records show.

Diaz pleaded not guilty to the shooting in October. Roggenkamp was arrested Tuesday. 


Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.