CROWN POINT — A Lake Criminal Court judge appointed a third mental health professional to evaluate whether a 31-year-old man was sane at the time he allegedly started a fire in the East Chicago police station and injured several officers.
Robert D. Conner, of Evanston, was evaluated by two mental health professionals, who determined he was competent to stand trial but disagreed on whether he was sane at the time of the alleged crimes, Judge Natalie Bokota said.
Conner's attorney, Mark Chargualaf, didn't object to the competency finding.
Chargualaf and Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Eric Randall agreed on the appointment of a third professional for further evaluation.
Conner is being held on several counts alleging he kicked out a window at a Walgreens store at 2123 Columbus Drive in East Chicago and set off a fire extinguisher Dec. 11, 2019, before police arrived and arrested him.
At the East Chicago Police Department, Conner allegedly went on a rampage that caused seven officers to inhale smoke and wounded five of them.
According to court records, Conner broke away from officers as they placed him in a cell and barricaded himself in a fingerprint room.
He allegedly pushed a fingerprinting machine, breath test machine, printer, filing cabinet and other equipment in front of the door. During this process, he apparently found a cigarette lighter on the floor, set loose papers ablaze and threw them at the door, records state.
Officers used a sledgehammer and other tools in an attempt to open the door as the department's sprinkler system activated. Two officers eventually gained entry, but Conner was able to shut the door and trap them in the smoky room, records allege.
More officers forced their way in as Conner lay on the ground against the wall. As the officers approached him, he kicked one of them in the legs, records state.
Police dragged him out of the fingerprint room as he continued to fight them, and an officer attempted to subdue him with a Taser. Conner pulled a Taser prong from his shoulder and used it to stab an officer in the head, records state.
He grabbed another officer's leg and tried to bite it, documents state. Two other officers suffered cuts and scratches on their hands and arms.
Bokota set Conner's next hearing for Feb. 18.