HOBART | A dispute over a basketball game played into a fight and shooting incident Saturday at Westfield Southlake mall, police said.
"The purpose of the fight had something to do with a debate over a basketball game played earlier in the day in the Miller section of Gary," Detective David Evans said.
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 are 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 is 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.
The gun fired by one of the teens was a Russian-made 7.65 mm handgun, "which is a pretty lethal round," Police Chief Jeff White said Saturday.
The boy with the handgun fired a single shot into the ceiling of the mall before the gun jammed. The bullet did not penetrate the upper mall level.
The teens were outside Gloria Jean's Coffees, police said. Those arrested and the one being sought were "definitely the aggressors" in the fight, White said.
Witnesses reported a chaotic scene as people fled after the gunshot, and traffic was backed up on exit roads around the mall for an hour following the evacuation. The mall remained locked down into the night.
The mall was reopened and back to regular business Sunday.
Calls to Lisa DeVries, marketing director for Westfield Southlake, were not returned Monday, and Police Chief White was not available for comment.
Shooting incidents inside the mall, which was opened in the mid-1970s, have been rare, according to police and The Times archives.
The Times archives lists a May 1, 1995, news report of a single gunshot fired at Southlake during an altercation.
The bullet was discovered lodged in a bookcase in a book business that operated in a hallway on the lower level.
A 21-year-old Gary man, Darrien McKinney Caper, was arrested and charged with the 1995 incident.
There also was another altercation, involving a gun, reported in The Times at Southlake on Dec. 22, 1999.
Some shoppers reportedly sought cover in a bookstore and some merchants barricaded their stores after some witnesses heard a gun hit the floor.
No shots were reported fired, The Times reported.