CROWN POINT — A man arrested on suspicion of kicking out a window at a Walgreens store barricaded himself in a room Wednesday at the East Chicago Police Department, set a fire, kicked, struck and bit police, and stabbed an officer with a Taser prong he pulled from his own shoulder, records show.
Robert D. Conner, 30, of Evanston, Illinois, first encountered officers while drinking an orange juice inside the Walgreens at 2123 Columbus Drive, across from the police department.
Surveillance video showed Conner broke into the store just after midnight by climbing up a trash can and kicking out a store window, according to court records.
When police found him inside, he retreated farther into the store and apparently set off a fire extinguisher before an officer ordered him to the ground at gunpoint.
Conner surrendered and was taken to the police department, where he initially appeared calm, records allege.
Officers took his mugshot, but returned him to a cell when he began shaking, looking around anxiously and repeatedly yelling, "Please, guys, don't kill me."
Conner walked back to a cell, but turned and ran out at the last minute. He went on a rampage that caused seven officers to inhale smoke and wounded five of them, four of whom sought treatment at St. Catherine Hospital, court records state.
After running out of his cell, Conner overturned a toilet paper trolley and barricaded himself in the fingerprint room, according to documents.
He reportedly 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 lied 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.
Seven officers inhaled smoke while forcing their way into the fingerprint room, none of them could see and all of them got wet from the sprinkler, records state.
Police eventually placed Conner in a cell. He was later taken to St. Catherine Hospital. His bond was set at $150,000 surety or $15,000 cash, online records showed.
He's charged with two counts of felony arson, attempted escape, battery by means of a deadly weapon, burglary and two counts of resisting law enforcement.
The fingerprint room was destroyed, and police documented damage to a computer system, printer, camera, fingerprinting machine, breath test machine and other devices. The fingerprint scanner was valued at $5,500, and the breath test machine was valued at $8,000.
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