Police: M'ville officer shot attacker

2013-05-20T16:58:00Z 2013-05-21T22:40:06Z Police: M'ville officer shot attackerChas Reilly and Elvia Malagon Times Staff Writers nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | An off-duty Merrillville officer shot a truck driver Monday afternoon after the driver attacked the officer outside Planned Parenthood in the 8600 block of Connecticut Street, police said.

The officer, who was not identified Monday, was working at the center as a security guard and at 2 p.m. wrote two parking citations after seeing the abandoned truck in the parking lot, said Robert Byrd, of the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force. It was not clear Monday where the driver was or why he stopped in Merrillville.

The Major Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident because a Merrillville police officer was involved.

About 3:55 p.m., the unidentified truck driver returned to his vehicle and the officer approached him to tell him about the citations. Byrd said the driver began hitting and attacking the officer.

Byrd said it does not appear the driver reached for the officer's weapon during the fight.

The fight continued onto the parking lot next to Planned Parenthood's lot, and at one point the driver got on top of the officer and began punching him in the face, Byrd said. The officer shot the driver once in the stomach.

"The officer had no other option to stop that attack other than to fire his weapon," he said.

The officer, who has worked for the department for 10 years, was being treated at a local hospital. The driver was scheduled to undergo surgery Monday night at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus in Merrillville.

Byrd said officials plan to charge the driver with attempted murder on a law enforcement officer, but no charges had been filed as of Monday night.

The driver had an outstanding warrant on a failure to appear on a suspended driving charge from the Atlanta area, Byrd said.

In a prepared statement, Planned Parenthood of Indiana said the officer involved was working as a security guard at the Merrillville center.

"As a leading provider of women's health care, the safety and security of our patients is Planned Parenthood's top priority today and every day," officials of Planned Parenthood said in the statement. "We are grateful to law enforcement for their swift response."

Dasia Magee, a woman who was in Planned Parenthood at the time, said she heard nurses say, "Call 911!"

She said she looked out the window and saw an officer holding a man down at gunpoint.

The semi had an Oregon license plate, and had Craig Strand written on the side of the truck. Calls to the Craig Strand trucking company based out of Molalla, Ore., were not returned Monday evening.

Byrd said the trailer was not carrying any cargo.


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