CROWN POINT — A Lake Criminal Court magistrate entered not guilty pleas Wednesday on behalf of a Whiting man accused of firing a handgun into a crowd of people during a fight early Sunday near Pieogi Fest.
Jose G. Rodriguez, 26, was taken into custody about 1 a.m. Sunday after a struggle with a Whiting police officer, court records state. The festival ended about 11 p.m. Saturday.
He was charged Monday with felony carrying a handgun without a license and two counts of criminal recklessness.
The officer, who was working a security detail for the festival, saw several people fighting in an alley behind a bar in the 1200 block of 119th Avenue, court records state.
A man, later identified as Rodriguez, took a step back from the group and fired a 9 mm handgun into the crowd, records allege.
The officer repeatedly ordered Rodriguez to drop the gun, but Rodriguez backpedaled down the alley with the gun behind his back, according to court documents.
Rodriguez eventually put both of his hands in the air, but he allegedly tried to break free as the officer attempted to get him to the ground.
Police later learned the handgun Rodriguez had was reported stolen out of Princeton County, Illinois, and Rodriguez was wanted on a warrant for escape in Cook County, records state.
A witness told police the fight started after the witness, who was with Rodriguez, accidentally bumped into a woman and two men became involved.
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