MERRILLVILLE — Police have secured murder charges against a 35-year-old in connection with Tuesday’s double homicide that killed a mother and son.

Robert Stewart, of Merrillville, was charged Thursday with two counts of murder — along with enhancements for using a gun during the crime — in the shooting deaths of Ryan Halbe, 27, and his mother, Candy Halbe, 55, in the 2400 block of West 61st Place, Lake Criminal Court records show.

Police responded at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday to the home for a report of two people shot. Around the same time, a Crown Point K-9 officer used a police dog to track down Stewart hiding blocks away in a shed.

In an interview with police, the suspect’s girlfriend told police Stewart lives with the family at Candy Halbe’s 61st Place home. She said Stewart has “issues with abusing alcohol” and “when he drinks, he gets violent,” according to court records.

The woman said while out running errands with Stewart and her young son, she questioned Stewart about his drinking, but he denied it, records show. When they returned home, a family argument ensued after an intoxicated Stewart allegedly “forcefully grabbed” and “pushed aside”  a young child in the home.

Shortly after Candy Halbe and Stewart’s girlfriend began arguing with him in the basement, Ryan Halbe joined them and grabbed Stewart by the shoulder, prompting Stewart to grab a gun from his waistband, court records show.

The feud erupted in gunfire after Ryan Halbe said to Stewart, “Why you waving a gun around? I don’t want to kick your (expletive).”

As Stewart fled the home, Ryan Halbe bled out onto the floor, records show.

“Dad, I’m dying,” he said, as his mother, Candy Halbe, lay on a nearby mattress, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her stomach.

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Ryan Halbe died late Tuesday at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus in Merrillville. Candy Halbe died early Thursday at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary.

Witnesses at the scene recall hearing three gunshots and saw Stewart fleeing the home with a gun. A person in the home allegedly had purchased the weapon for Stewart.

A K-9 officer used a police dog to track Stewart’s footprints in the snow to a shed in the 5700 block of Roosevelt Place. An officer located a .45 caliber Springfield XD weapon to the right of the footprints and a missing magazine about 15 feet away.

Upon arrival at the shed, a police dog was employed to apprehend Stewart because he refused to comply with commands to show his hands, step out of the shed and get to the ground, the affidavit stated.

Stewart was interviewed Thursday morning by police, records show. He told police he doesn’t remember much about the night, and that he blacks out often when he drinks.

He told police he “did not recall much until being at home that night, possibly getting into an argument (with his girlfriend), being downstairs and getting into a tussle with Ryan,” and then running and hopping fences, the affidavit stated.

He added he remembered “hearing gunshots but did not recall pulling out a gun, pointing a gun, or shooting Ryan and Candy (Halbe),” records show.

Stewart is in custody. An initial court appearance was not yet scheduled as of Thursday.

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.