Suspect in cop attack could face attempted murder charge

2013-05-21T14:16:00Z 2013-05-22T15:11:06Z Suspect in cop attack could face attempted murder chargeChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | An attempted murder charge could be filed Wednesday against a truck driver accused of attacking an off-duty Merrillville officer Monday outside of a Planned Parenthood facility.

The driver, who was shot by the officer during the altercation, is under police guard in the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus, said Robert Byrd, of the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.

Byrd said the driver is unable to speak.

The task force on Tuesday continued investigating the case, which it expects to present to the Lake County prosecutor's office Wednesday.

Police said the officer approached the driver at 3:55 p.m. Monday to explain parking citations he issued after the truck was left in the Planned Parenthood parking lot in the 8600 block of Connecticut Street.

Police said the driver began attacking the officer, who was working security at the facility.

During the altercation, the driver got on top of the officer and started striking him in the face, police said. The officer shot the driver once in the stomach.

Byrd has said firing the weapon was the only option the officer had to stop the attack.

Byrd said the officer was treated at a local hospital and later released. The officer, who has 10 years of service with the Merrillville Police Department, will have follow-up medical appointments, Byrd said.

The driver has a criminal past that includes criminal trespass, domestic violence and driving while suspended charges filed between 1999 and 2005 in Atlanta, Byrd said.

Police haven't released the identities of the officer or the driver.

The driver's semi had an Oregon license plate. Craig Strand was written on the side of the truck, which was impounded. Byrd said the trailer was not carrying cargo.

The Craig Strand trucking company, of Molalla, Ore., could not be reached for comment.

According to carrier registration information from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the trucking business has one driver.

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