HOBART | Three men in custody Thursday in a home invasion, crash and shooting Wednesday night confessed to breaking into a Porter County woman's home, robbing her at gunpoint and beating her, police said.
The home invasion/robbery, in which cash and guns were taken Wednesday, was planned days in advance and included having the 52-year-old homeowner there, Hobart police Lt. David Grissom said.
"They wanted her to be at home so she could open the safe," Grissom said.
The robbery was reported at 5:04 p.m. in the 100 block of South County Road 450 West in Porter Township. A pursuit of the four suspects ensued along U.S. 30 and ended in a crash in Hobart near the intersection of U.S. 30 and Colorado Street.
The woman's neighbor, a Hammond firefighter, chased the intruders and stayed in touch with police dispatchers during the pursuit, police said.
Porter County sheriff's spokesman Larry LaFlower credited the victim's neighbor, the Hammond firefighter, for pursuing the suspects.
Three of the suspects were apprehended by police. A fourth suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot, Grissom said.
The deceased, a 24-year-old Crown Point man, has been identified as Shawn Patrick Duffy, the Lake County coroner's office said.
Duffy died as a result of a single self-inflicted gunshot to the head, the coroner's office said.
Surveillance video from a Centier Bank branch confirmed Duffy had shot himself, Grissom said.
Grissom said Duffy, who had a "Never Surrender" tattoo on both forearms, had vowed he would never surrender to police.
"He said he had served time in jail and was never going to go back again," Grissom said.
The other three men, whom Grissom declined to name, include a 22-year-old from Gary and a 23-year-old and a 24-year-old from the Homewood-Flossmoor area, he said.
Charges are pending in Lake and Porter counties, Grissom said.
"The investigation is still ongoing with other possible leads and suspects that are being followed," Grissom said.
Porter County authorities will present their case to Porter County prosecutors at 10:30 a.m. Friday, and Hobart will follow with presentation of its case to Lake County prosecutors at 1:30 p.m.
Depending on the outcome of those charges, a news conference is planned in either Valparaiso or Hobart on Friday afternoon, Grissom said.
All three suspects remained in Hobart police custody as of Thursday, Lake County sheriff's spokeswoman Patti Van Til said.
"It is unknown at this time when the subjects will be transported to Lake County Jail," Van Til said.
No bystanders were injured Wednesday night during the events that led to at least 10 shots being fired by one of the suspects.
"We are all lucky with all the traffic and people that no pedestrians were hurt," Grissom said.
Grissom said a portion of U.S. 30 and Colorado was closed down while law enforcement from nine agencies pursued the suspects.
"We had a portion of U.S. 30 shut down for four hours," Grissom said.
During the police pursuit, patrons in a number of restaurants along the busy U.S. 30 retail corridor had to be evacuated, Grissom said.
"I feel bad because we had to clear the restaurants and everyone, even children, had to evacuate with their hands up," he said.
The woman injured in the home invasion was taken to Porter hospital for treatment, LaFlower said. Three of the four suspects kicked and punched her inside her home, he said.
An update on her condition was unavailable Thursday.
The Hammond firefighter was shot in the hand at some point during the chase and was awaiting surgery at St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, Grissom said.
FBI agents were also on hand, at a nearby gas station, just after the suspects' car crashed and chased the men but didn't exchange fire, Hobart Police Chief Jeff White said.
One man, the driver of the car, was taken into custody immediately, police said.
Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch was at a restaurant on U.S. 30 and took one suspect into custody, Grissom said. Another suspect was taken into custody at a different restaurant.
"It all turned out well with all the bad guys in custody and no one got hurt," Grissom said.