Two homes were torched Thursday night in the same neighborhood in Gary where hours earlier a police shootout left one man dead and two officers injured.
Gary firefighters were dispatched at 8:50 p.m. Thursday to reports of heavy smoke at a home at 4121 W. 22nd Plaza, according to Mark Jones, the Fire Department's chief of operations. The home sustained extensive structural damage, the chief said, and it took crews about two hours to extinguish the flames.
Firefighters were dispatched again around midnight after a second fire was reported at 4135 W. 22nd Plaza, the chief said. That fire was contained to a rear east bedroom, but did moderate damage to the home.
Jones said Monday both fires were suspected arsons, but investigators were still trying to determine their causes.
The plaza was a chaotic scene earlier that afternoon after a controlled drug purchase by police turned into a shootout between law enforcement and a 33-year-old Gary man.
A controlled drug purchase was allegedly conducted at about 1:50 p.m. between law enforcement and Ned Brooks III near the intersection of 22nd Plaza and Willard Street in Gary, according to Indiana State Police.
The law enforcement officers attempted to stop the vehicle after the transaction, but Brooks allegedly rammed his vehicle into several unmarked police cars and then began shooting at police.
Brooks allegedly fled into the backyard of a home in the 4200 block of West 22nd Plaza, where he was found dead by police. An autopsy by the Lake County coroner's office later determined Brooks died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Two law enforcement officers suffered injuries that were not life threatening as a result of the shootout and chase. A civilian was also critically injured.