HAMMOND | Ten years ago, 25-year-old Julio Cartagena was gunned down outside an apartment building in the 1900 block of East Columbus Drive in East Chicago. And since the early morning hours of May 16, 2003, no one has been held responsible for the shooting.
But justice may be near, as three men were formally indicted Thursday for Cartagena’s murder in U.S. District Court in Hammond. Kiontay Kyare Pennington, 34, of Gary, Oscar Cosme, 40, of East Chicago, and Adron Herschel Tancil, 36, address unknown, were charged with use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and causing death, said Mary Hatton, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
The three suspects, purported members or affiliates of the Two Six street gang, have been in federal custody since last month.
The fatal shooting was reportedly in retaliation for a 2002 theft of cocaine and marijuana from a Portage storage unit, valued at an estimated $1 million, which the suspects blamed Cartagena for stealing.
In 2003, East Chicago police reported that four gunmen dressed as police officers shot and killed Cartagena. The occupants of a black Ford Crown Victoria were wearing blue windbreakers with the letters POLICE stenciled across the backs in white capital letters when they opened fire on Cartagena at the intersection of Fir Street and Columbus Drive, striking him several times.
The vehicle fled the scene and smashed into a semi near the Cline Avenue overpass, killing the driver, Louis Henderson, 36.
Over the next 10 years, police have continued to piece together the case. In May, investigators collected DNA samples that allegedly tied Cosme and Pennington to the crime. The charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.