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Lansing police release surveillance photos of robbery suspects
LANSING — A 24-year-old clerk was shot in the leg Sunday night during a robbery at a Family Dollar store, police said.
The shooting may be linked to another armed robbery earlier in the night at a Munster Burger King, Lansing police said.
Lansing police were dispatched about 9:50 p.m. to the Family Dollar at 17829 Burnham Ave. after three men robbed the business and shot the clerk.
Police said the suspects were described as three males wearing dark clothing. The three men entered the store about 10 minutes before closing and demanded money from the clerk. One of the men fired a gun at the clerk, and an undisclosed amount of money was taken before the three men fled through a parking lot, police said.
In a statement released at 9:17 p.m. Monday night, Lansing police said the clerk, who reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, was transported to a local hospital. Police said the clerk underwent surgery and currently is listed in stable condition.
The three suspects were described as black with dark clothing and their faces partially covered. One had a handgun, police said.
Police said the first suspect, the one with the gun, had on a black hoodie sweatshirt with white trim and black sweat pants with white stripes down the legs.
The second suspect was wearing all black and had a distinctive brown backpack with light colored trim. The third suspect was wearing all black clothes with white and gold shoes and acted as a lookout during the robbery, authorities said.
Police said footprints in the snow led to a residential street where it appeared as if the men entered a vehicle.
Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigation responded to the scene and processed the business for evidence.
The Lansing Police Department Criminal Investigations Division has an on-going investigation and is requesting that anyone with information call Lansing police at 708-895-7150.
Five people injured in two-vehicle crash in Porter County
Five people, including a 7-year-old, were injured in a two-vehicle crash Monday around 2 p.m. in Porter County causing a road to be closed and diverting traffic for nearly two hours.
The crash occurred in the area of 209 W. Ind. 130, Porter County Sheriff Police Sgt. Jamie Erow said. Emergency medical helicopters also were called in, she said.
Police reported Ind. 130 between County Road 250 West and Howe Road reopened around 4 p.m.
According to a news release from the Porter County Sheriff's Department, initial investigation shows a blue Dodge Dakota driven by a 28-year-old Valparaiso resident was traveling westbound on Ind. 130 when the driver lost control of the truck on the roadway, sliding sideways into the eastbound lanes of travel.
The Dodge Dakota crossed the center line, sliding into an eastbound white 2008 Chevy box truck driven by Sean Hohl, 25, of South Bend.
Authorities said the box truck was a company vehicle belonging to Fox Fire Safety in Mishawaka. Hohl was transported to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart for complaints of pain. Hohl was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, police said.
Police said the names of the occupants from the Dodge Dakota are not being released at this time pending family notification.
The front seat passenger in the Dodge Dakota, a 28-year-old Valparaiso resident, was transported to Porter Regional for serious injuries and police say that passenger is listed in critical condition.
The two rear passengers, a 23-year-old of DeMotte and a 7-year-old from Valparaiso, were reported stable and transported to Porter Regional Hospital with complaints of pain.
The driver of the Dodge Dakota was transported to Porter County Regional Airport by Porter EMS, and then airlifted to South Bend Memorial by Samaritan Air with internal injuries, police said.
Authorities said both lanes of travel on Ind. 130 from County Road 250 W. to Froberg Road were shut down for about an hour and a half while Porter County’s Accident Reconstruction team completed its investigation.
Police said it is not clear if all of the occupants in the Dakota were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.
The Porter County Accident Reconstruction team was called out to the scene. Others assisting with the crash were the following agencies: Valparaiso Fire and Rescue, South Haven Fire EMS, Porter EMS, Samaritan Air, Sandbergs Towing and Porter County Central Communications. Toxicology results are pending.
Reporter Bob Kasarda contributed to this report.
Continued erosion causes observation deck at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk to collapse
PORTAGE — The circular, concrete observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan at the Portage Riverwalk and Lakefront collapsed over the weekend.
It is the latest blow to the park that has been suffering from erosion the past few years. The continued erosion was compounded recently as high waves and strong winds battered the shoreline.
Portage Park Superintendent Jenny Orsburn said she was informed of the collapse Sunday night. The area was roped off with caution tape and barriers to prevent people from wandering onto the area.
The 60-acre park is owned by the National Park Service and managed by the Portage Park Department. Federal officials were unavailable Monday because offices were closed in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Orsburn said she planned to meet with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Paul Labovitz this week to assess the damage, determine a monetary loss and devise a plan to move forward.
The park department, along with the NPS, have been monitoring this area for the past six years, Orsburn said.
"The ramp to the beach was closed by the NPS for public access when we started losing beach and the ramp structure was compromised. When we started noticing significant erosion along the walkway, we implemented erosion control, placing rock and sand along with dune grass in the area. This held the walkway and prevented further erosion," Orsburn said of efforts taken to help stop erosion.
"Over this past summer we noticed the slope in front of the node (observation deck) was eroding at a significant rate. We placed sand and rock in front on the slope. Unfortunately, in a matter of two months with the waves and storms impacting the shoreline, we lost most of the slope," Orsburn said.
"First and foremost public safety is our concern, so NPS placed snow fence to prevent the public from walking down the slope. In November, the NPS installed fencing to close off the walkway completely. The NPS engineer determined there to be a public safety concern; the west node’s concrete slab simply sits on top of the sand dune," she said.
The $16 million park, funded through Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, federal, state and local funding opened to the public in 2009. Developed as part of the Marquette Plan, the park reclaimed a former dump site operated by the former National Steel.
At the time, Lake Michigan water levels were low and visitors enjoyed using the park's beach.
Erosion issues began to rise in 2014, along with lake levels. By 2015, the beach disappeared, and the walkway to the beach was closed by the NPS.
The erosion issues initiated talks and meetings between the Army Corps of Engineers, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Portage, the office of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and Ogden Dunes. That resulted in the need for a study to develop a beach nourishment management plan. At the time, officials said it could take three to five years to complete the study.
The lakefront and riverwalk are west of the Burns Waterway breakwall, Port of Indiana and other structures which jut out into Lake Michigan and block the natural drift of sand along the lakeshore. The blocking of natural sand drift to the west of the structures causes the deprivation of sand to the area. The proposed study would look at how to compensate for that lack of natural beach re-nourishment.
"The Army Corps, National Park Service and the city have still been working on a plan for a study," Orsburn said. "We are still trying to secure funding for the study."
UPDATE: Lake-effect snow complicates travel; worst may be yet to come
Heavy snow fell Tuesday morning in parts of Northwest Indiana, leading to multiple spin-out and slide-off crashes.
Snow squalls reduced visibility to a quarter of a mile or less, and gusty winds were likely to affect travel, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation Northwest.
Winter weather watches for Porter, LaPorte and Starke counties were upgraded to winter weather advisories, according to the National Weather Service.
The advisory for Porter County will continue until midnight. LaPorte and Starke counties will be under the advisory from 3 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.
A winter weather advisory for Lake County remained in effect until 9 p.m.
Indiana State Police for the Lowell post responded to multiple crashes Tuesday morning, including a jackknifed semitrailer on westbound Interstate 94 near Burns Harbor.
The semi was the only vehicle involved, and no serious injuries were reported, state police spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Wojas said. Minor injuries were reported in a separate single-car crash about a tenth of a mile ahead of the jackknifed semi, and none of the crashes reported as of 1 p.m. resulted in serious injury, she said.
Traffic moved slowly throughout the morning on parts of I-80/94, I-65 and the Indiana Toll Road.
Heavier bands of lake-effect snow were expected to persist in Porter County and areas to the east through Tuesday night.
INDOT warned drivers to take it slow and stay clear of plow trucks.
LaPorte and Jasper counties were under a travel advisory, which means routine travel may be restricted because of hazardous conditions, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Starke County was under a travel watch, which means only essential travel is recommended.
The new snow expected Tuesday comes after 4 to 6 inches were reported throughout southern Lake and Porter counties and much of LaPorte County during a 24-hour period from Sunday morning to Monday morning.
Additional accumulation of 2 to 5 inches was expected Tuesday in localized areas of Lake County.
In Porter and LaPorte counties, snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour for short durations. Porter County could see new accumulation of up to 6 inches.
LaPorte and Starke counties could see total new accumulation of 3 to 5 inches.
Residents were urged to continue to monitor weather forecasts before heading out.
Several schools have announced delays and closures Tuesday because of the weather.
Check back at nwi.com for updates.