MERRILLVILLE | Merrillville authorities released surveillance video Monday of an SUV believed to be used by suspects in the killing of Andrew Fugate at Piatak Meats on Nov. 4.
Merrillville Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley said authorities are asking for the public's help in identifying the light-colored large GM vehicle.
Fugate, 27, of Hobart, was found shot to death inside Piatak Meats, which is co-owned by his father, Steve Fugate.
Steve Fugate attended the news conference, along with 11 other family members.
Security video footage from numerous businesses along Broadway show the vehicle traveling from the 4800 block of Broadway in Gary to Piatak Meats at 6200 Broadway in Merrillville after 4 a.m. that day.
The vehicle backed into the rear parking lot of Piatak Meats and two shadowy subjects got out, the sometimes grainy video shows. The two figures returned to the vehicle about 10 minutes later, made a U-turn and headed north on Broadway to 4800 Broadway in Gary.
The vehicle was traveling a higher rate of speed as it approached 4800 Broadway, Wiley said.
Wiley said the vehicle is a late 1990s or early 2000s model and most closely resembles a GMC Yukon or a Chevrolet Tahoe. Another possibility is that the vehicle is a Cadillac Escalade, he said.
Andrew Fugate's body was discovered by a store manager about 7 a.m. The victim had arrived for work at the business about 4 a.m. to begin meat preparations, which was his normal routine, according to his maternal grandmother, Diane Cash, of Portage.
“He worked at the business since he was 17. He made the sausage and went in to do all the preparation for the store to open. He was helping out his sister, Amy, who does all the cooking,” Cash said.
“It’s been pure hell,” Cash said about the family’s experience since the slaying. “We don’t understand. We don’t want to be avengers. We want our questions answered. We want to know why.”
Fugate was shot in the head three times, once at close range. The bullets used were .38 caliber, Wiley said.
“He was brutally slain inside the business,” said Wiley, who was the first detective on the scene.
There was no evidence of forced entry or a robbery, Wiley said. In addition, the rear steel door was locked from the inside and had to be opened by the store manager’s key.
That’s why Merrillville police asked for the assistance of the Major Crimes Task Force, Wiley said. Fourteen members of the group, which includes law enforcement officers from Lake and Porter counties, have followed up on leads and tips and processed evidence, task force member Sgt. Don Foley said.
“We have several pieces of biological specimens that are being analyzed by the Indiana State Police laboratory and the Lake County crime lab,” Wiley said.
A $10,000 reward — $5,000 from the Merrillville Police Department and $5,000 from the AFT – is being offered.
The videotape of the vehicle released through the media may also “jar some memories,” he said.
Anyone with information regarding the murder of Andrew Fugate is asked to call the Merrillville police anonymous tip hotline at (219) 769-3531, ext. 545.