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Region off-duty cop nearly hit by gunshot while breaking up fight, department says
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Region off-duty cop nearly hit by gunshot while breaking up fight, department says

Javier Santillan and Brian Strong

Javier Santillan and Brian Strong

LAPORTE — An off-duty LaPorte County police officer was nearly struck by a bullet while trying to break up a fight in rural Center Township, the department said.

Sgt. Jon Burger said he saw the .40-caliber handgun fired Nov. 17 by Javier J. Santillan, 20, of Westville, who is being held without bond facing a felony count of criminal recklessness, LaPorte County Sheriff Capt. Derek Allen said.

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A second man, Brian Strong, 22, address not available, also was taken into custody after it was discovered he was wanted by LaPorte city police on three counts of operating while intoxicated, according to police

Strong was released from jail later the same day after bond was posted on his behalf.

Burger was near a residence along Dogwood Drive when he heard loud music and saw people exiting a vehicle and a man coming out of the house, Allen said. Two men then began fighting on the lawn at which time Burger approached identifying himself as a police officer.

More people were fighting and some began to stop when Santillan ran into the house and re-emerged holding a black Beretta model 96 handgun, according to police. Santillan fired one round as Burger watched him do so while standing near the passenger side of the vehicle.

The vehicle fled the scene and was later stopped in the area of Johnson Road and County Road 400 North, Allen said. An officer saw a gunshot hole in the driver's side of the vehicle and passenger Strong was taken into custody.

"Sergeant Burger is commended for his decision to act quickly and defuse an increasingly volatile situation," LaPorte County Sheriff John T. Boyd said. 

"This incident highlights the inherent dangers deputies experience each day, both on-duty and off-duty," Boyd said. "We are very thankful and fortunate that Sergeant Burger, nor any citizens, were injured by the incredibly dangerous actions of the subject."


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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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