HOBART | Hobart police are bolstering their patrols along the U.S. 30 retail area, police Detective David Evans said.
The move is more in preparation for the upcoming holiday shopping season than it is in response to the shooting incident Saturday night at Westfield Southlake mall, he added.
Evans said Police Chief Jeff White will be making contact with mall officials to discuss the possibility of bringing more security on board within the mall itself during the holidays.
"The chief will be making contact with mall officials to make logistical suggestions to better protect citizens," Evans said.
In addition to police patrols around the mall, Hobart police also work during their off-duty hours as security at the mall, Evans said.
The mall and individual stores also hire security and loss-prevention security.
"Citizens should not be afraid to go to the mall. ... Everyone takes a lot of precautions for a safe city and citizens should not be afraid to shop," Evans said.
Police said it was a dispute over a basketball game that played into a fight and a shooting incident at the mall.
The mall, on U.S. 30 east of Mississippi Street, was evacuated about 6:30 p.m. Saturday after a shot was fired in one of the mall's open areas when two groups of youths got into a fight.
Off-duty Hobart police officers working mall security apprehended three teens, who were expected to be charged Tuesday through Lake County Juvenile Court, Evans said.
The three teens, ages 14, 15 and 16, are from Gary.
A fourth teen, a 15-year-old from Gary, remains at large but has been identified, Evans said. The teen is believed to be the brother of one of the three arrested. He also was included in the charges presented, police said.
Charges will include battery, criminal recklessness, having a pistol with no permit and pointing a firearm, Evans said.