VALPARAISO | The four men accused of robbing a Porter Township woman Wednesday in a home invasion took advantage of her kindness when she opened her door to offer a "lost" driver a glass of water, authorities said.
Dominick Fazzini, 23, of Peotone, Ill., is charged in Porter County with burglary, robbery and confinement. Jordan Wilkerson, 23, of Chicago, is charged with burglary, aiding in a robbery and aiding in confinement, and Michael Sprague, 24, of Gary, is charged with aiding in a burglary, aiding in a robbery and aiding in confinement. All of the charges are felonies.
The men crashed their car in Hobart after a chase following the alleged home invasion. The fourth suspect, Shawn Duffy, 24, of Crown Point, shot himself after the crash, police said.
Sprague, who was driving, also was charged through the Lake County prosecutor's office with leaving the scene, Hobart police Lt. David Grissom said.
That was the lone Lake County charge in the case, Grissom said.
Hobart police detectives presented their case to the Lake County prosecutor's office Friday.
"We were hoping for more charges reflective of the law," Grissom said.
On Wednesday, Porter County sheriff's police were called to a home invasion in the 100 block of South County Road 450 West.
The injured 52-year-old woman inside the farmhouse told police a well-dressed man came to her door asking for directions. When she offered him some water, he knocked her down, punched her and held her to the ground while three other men, two armed with handguns, entered her home and began demanding the keys to a safe in the basement, according to police reports. They reportedly threatened to shoot her if she didn't comply with their demands.
After she gave them access to a safe, the men put a number of guns in garbage bags and loaded other items into their pockets, police said.
She said the men then grabbed bleach and began trying to remove their fingerprints from the scene. They also ripped off her shirt and forced her to put on a different one, she said.
The men then reportedly heard her neighbor coming to the house and took off.
That neighbor, a Hammond firefighter, checked on the woman and then began following her attackers into Lake County, giving 911 dispatchers information along the way, according to reports.
When the suspects got to the intersection of U.S. 30 and Colorado Street in Hobart, they crashed and fled their car, but not before police said one of them shot the victim's neighbor in the hand after the neighbor pointed his own gun at the suspects. The Hammond firefighter still was being treated Friday after hand surgery, Grissom said.
Police said Fazzini was found hiding in a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant. Wilkerson was found hiding near the car, and Sprague was apprehended inside a TGI Friday's restaurant, police said.
Duffy was found near a Centier bank branch by an FBI agent who happened to be at the intersection at the time of the crash. The agent said after Duffy fired three or four shots at him, Duffy took off running across U.S. 30. The agent said during the chase, Duffy stopped, pointed his handgun at his own head, fired one shot and fell to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
During interviews with officers, Fazzini said he was contacted about doing a "job" in Porter County by someone with knowledge of the woman's home and her possessions.
Fazzini allegedly said he needed the woman to be home during the burglary because she knew the code to the safe.
He said he and others staked out the house about three days before the crime after they were provided with the address and a map by the alleged orchestrator, police said.
Fazzini said Wilkerson purchased a dress shirt and tie, and Duffy provided himself and Fazzini with handguns to carry out their attack, police said.
Fazzini, Wilkerson and Sprague are being held without bond at Porter County Jail and are scheduled to appear before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford on Monday afternoon.