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CROWN POINT — A 34-year-old Gary man was charged Friday with murder in a shootout last June in Gary that killed Clarence Thornton. 

Rickey O'Neal Smith Jr. is alleged to have shot Thornton, 25, of Gary, the afternoon of June 28, 2016, in the 300 block of Mount Street in Gary, according to a probable cause affidavit. 

Police dispatched to the area found Thornton dead in the road surrounded by bullet fragments and spent cartridge casings, the affidavit states.

Smith, who was shot in the leg, was transported to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus. 

Police found two .40 caliber handguns, one tossed near the alley and the second one sitting on the tail gate of a vehicle outside Smith's home at 308 Matthews Street, near the scene of the shooting. 

Smith allegedly called 911 to report the shootout.

He told dispatchers he shot Thornton in self-defense. An autopsy indicated Thornton was shot five times in the head, all the bullet wounds tightly grouped in the top of the head. 

Police also discovered Thornton's blood on the .40 caliber handgun that allegedly belonged to Smith. 

Smith was charged Friday in Lake Criminal Court, but court documents were sealed until Smith's arrest Tuesday. 

Smith is jailed without bond, according to court records. 


Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.