Merrillville man, 20, charged in 'ruthless' Lucky Mart killing

2012-03-07T15:30:00Z 2013-11-13T20:18:12Z Merrillville man, 20, charged in 'ruthless' Lucky Mart killingBy Chas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-53224 nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | A 20-year-old Merrillville man has been charged in Sunday's fatal shooting at Lucky Mart Foods.

Jeremy Kale Blue, of the 5600 block of Johnson Street, was charged Wednesday with murder, murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery.

Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said Blue was taken into custody Tuesday and did not resist arrest.

The Northwest Regional SWAT team was waiting about two hours for a warrant when Blue surrendered outside of his home, Petruch said.

"It's kind of hard for a family not to know that you have a SWAT team around your house for about two hours," Petruch said.

About 1 p.m. Sunday, Blue entered Lucky Mart Foods wearing a hockey mask, pointed a handgun at store clerk Judi Simpson-Beaver and demanded money, Lake County court documents state.

The convenience store is at 5695 Cleveland St., and Blue's home is blocks away from the store.

Police said Blue took two drawers containing an undetermined amount of cash.

He started walking toward the exit, but stopped and fired a shot at Simpson-Beaver, 48, of Merrillville, documents state. Police said he walked behind the store counter and fired another round at Simpson-Beaver's head.

Jim Lilley, Merrillville's chief of detectives, said it's uncertain why Simpson-Beaver was shot during the robbery because she complied with the demands for money. Blue has not provided a statement to police.

"It's ruthless for him to do what he did," Lilley said.

Petruch said Blue lifted his mask after leaving the store and a witness got a clear view of Blue's face. Merrillville police Detective Joe Cooper said the witness knew Blue "from around the area."

Police said Simpson-Beaver moved from Texas to Merrillville about a year ago and worked at Lucky Mart Foods for about six months. Cooper said there are no indications Blue and Simpson-Beaver knew each other.

Police found a brown and maroon Oldsmobile at Blue's home that matches the description of a vehicle seen fleeing the area after the robbery and shooting.

Cooper said police are examining the vehicle for evidence.

Video surveillance of the armed robbery and shooting shows the suspect is wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with "Royal Estoc Empire" written on it.

Merrillville police received a tip from an anonymous caller who claims to know Blue, documents state. That person told police Blue has been seen wearing the same sweatshirt that was seen in the video.

"He wears it like everyday," the person told police.

Cooper said police haven't recovered a weapon or the hooded sweatshirt.

Lilley said police have "worked around the clock" on the case. The department has received hundreds of tips, Cooper said.

Investigators still are seeking information about two men who were seen acting suspicious in the store minutes before the shooting.

One of the men waited at the door, while the other approached the counter, police said. The men left without making a purchase.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Merrillville Police Department at (219) 769-3531.

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