72-year-old Portage man dies after being shot outside his home

2012-11-02T15:15:00Z 2012-11-03T18:11:23Z 72-year-old Portage man dies after being shot outside his homeJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Carl Griffith Jr. believes some kind of dispute may have led to the death of his father, Carl Griffith Sr., on Thursday night.

The elder Griffith, 72, was gunned down in his front yard about 8 p.m. Thursday. He was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later at Porter Regional Hospital in Portage.

Griffith Jr., who lives with his father in the 2700 block of Locust Street, said his dad was a tow truck driver. He said he heard his dad come home from work, unlock the door to the home and then step back into the front yard to take a phone call.

"He never made it into the house," his son said.

Earlier in the day, Griffith Sr. was shot at in Gary, according to Gary police Cpl. Gabrielle King.

About 10 a.m. Thursday, Griffith Sr., who worked for Affordable Towing, received a phone call in reference to a female in the 3300 block of Kentucky Street wanting to sell her vehicle. About 12:05 p.m., Griffith Sr. went to that location and saw the vehicle in the driveway, so he parked on the street and waited for the woman selling the car to come out to complete the transaction, King said.

As Griffith Sr. and his passenger waited, they saw a man run up to the tow truck, display a handgun and then fire one time, police said. The gun malfunctioned, and the man fled the area on foot. Griffith Sr. called police.

Neighbors told Griffith Jr. a car with an Illinois license plate had been sitting around the corner from his Portage home for more than two hours before the second shooting took place.

Police said that vehicle left the area shortly after the shooting, and a man was seen running into the vehicle before it left.

Griffith Jr. said he was in the basement when he heard shots and came outside to find his father lying in the front yard with multiple gunshot wounds.

He called police. He believes his father was dead, but emergency workers revived him and took him to the hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.

"He's a good guy. He worked his whole life and helped people out," said Griffith Jr.

He said five shots were fired and three struck his father.

He said his father lived in the house on a quiet residential street on the city's west side for more than 20 years. Before becoming a tow truck driver, he drove a semitruck for about 30 years.

He said his father had 10 children, many of whom live in different states. His father was not married at the time of his death.

Sgt. Keith Hughes, of the Portage Police Department, said the shooting is being investigated as a homicide.

Hughes said officers were called at 8:05 p.m. to Griffith's home. Investigators began questioning people at the police station shortly after receiving the call, Hughes said, and continued questioning through the night into Friday morning.

Hughes declined to say whether any of the people being questioned are considered people of interest in connection with the shooting death.

Times staff writer Lauri Harvey Keagle contributed to this report.

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