EAST CHICAGO | East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland stood his ground against a man who pointed a gun at him on the street Thursday night, police said.
A police report states Copeland yelled to the man, "If you're gonna shoot, then shoot!"
Just before 10 p.m. Thursday, Copeland, 56, was taking his daily 90-minute walk and was in the 3900 block of Main Street when a man came out of the alley behind Johnny's Meat Market at 3940 Main St., police said.
"By me walking so much, when I come to a gangway or alleyway, I always walk toward the outer edge of the curb so I don't get pulled in or hit by a car," Copeland said Friday afternoon.
Copeland taught martial arts for 18 years and said the technique he employed is the same one he had taught in self-defense classes.
The man pointed a gun at Copeland, police said, but didn't demand anything.
Copeland then ran behind a parked car, and as the man came farther onto the sidewalk, the mayor dared him to shoot, police said.
"I just yelled at the top of my voice," Copeland said. "Now I have cover with the parked car, and I've drawn attention to the situation."
The man fled in an unknown direction.
"That little bitty distance between us made a difference," he said. "If I'd been walking closer to the alley, he would have been able to put the gun to my head or pull me into the alley."
Copeland described the offender as a black man wearing black jeans, a black parka with a black hooded sweatshirt and a black knit hat. He was about 30 to 35 years old, 6 feet tall and about 150 to 160 pounds.
Officers searched the area but were unable to find anyone matching the suspect's description. Copeland praised East Chicago police for responding quickly and for doing their best to find the suspect.
The mayor said he hurt his shoulder when he took cover behind the parked car but was not badly injured.
Copeland said he is certain the man did not know he was pointing a gun at the city's mayor.
"I'm no different than any other citizen that walks the street," he said. "I was just another opportunity in his mind."
Copeland said he was shaken by the incident.
"If you look at a gun, you're never the same," he said. "The other guy thinks he's got the power, but there's no honor in taking a life. Only God can do that."
He said the incident will not change his attitude toward crime in his city.
"I've always taken it seriously," he said. "I take it as a sign of the times. Things like this are happening every day in every community in the nation."
City offices were closed Friday, and Copeland already had planned to take the next two weeks off, "my first vacation since the election."
Copeland said he always looks forward to his children coming home for Christmas, and this year will be extra special.
"They say death comes like a thief in the night, and it's true," he said. "No one is immune."