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Ten homicide victims have been reported in the Region since the start of the new year. 

The victims include two men who crashed their cars in Gary after being shot, a Chicago man found dead in a pond in rural LaPorte County, a murder suspect shot and killed by police in a SWAT breach, and his alleged victim: a mother of four found strangled to death in a Merrillville hotel.

Of the 10 homicides, 6 occurred within Gary city limits and two were in neighboring Merrillville. East Chicago and Lincoln Township had one homicide each. 

In comparison, the number of homicides in Chicago had reached 18 by Thursday morning, according to to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

On Jan. 8, family, friends, community members and faith leaders held a vigil in the blistering cold outside a gas station in Gary. United by tragedy, the group sought answers to violence in the Steel City that already had claimed victims in 2020 and took the lives of 58 in 2019.

"These senseless killings, they have to stop," Apostle Marvin East, of Gary, said.

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About a dozen people gathered Wednesday, Jan. 8 at the gas station at 19th Avenue and Harrison Street for a prayer vigil honoring gun violence victims. 

Here's a rundown of what happened in each case: 

  • On Jan. 3, James P. Clark, 58, of Indianapolis, was found dead from a gunshot wound in the 3000 block of W. Ninth Avenue in Gary. Police responded about 6 a.m. for a report of a man down in the middle of the street and found Clark lying on his back. 
  • That same day, Joseph D. Clopton, 47, of Chicago, was found in a pond in the 4300 block of County Road 800 East in rural Lincoln Township in LaPorte County. Clopton was reported missing Dec. 19 in Chicago. 
  • On Jan. 4, Melvin Bouler, 82, of Gary, died at 4:20 p.m. at University of Chicago Medical Center. He was shot by police Nov. 17, 2019, after Gary officers responded to the 2400 block of Roosevelt Street for a report of an intoxicated person with a weapon.
  • On Jan. 6, Wydallas Tobar, 37, of Gary, a father of five, was found dead from gunshot wounds about 1:45 a.m. in the 600 block of West 19th Avenue.
  • On Jan. 12 Betty Claudio, 44, found dead at the Hampton Inn in the 8300 block of Georgia Street in Merrillville after police responded for a death investigation. Lt. Ray Smith and Detective Aaron Ridgeway are handling the investigation.
  • That same day, Marcelis Stevenson, 21, of Gary, was found gunned down in a crashed vehicle. He was pronounced dead at 11:50 p.m. Jan. 12 at 35th Avenue and Filmore Street in Gary. 
  • On Jan. 13, Keenan McCain, 39, of Merrillville, a suspect in Betty Claudio’s homicide, was killed by police after shooting two Gary police officers. 
  • On Jan. 13, Julio Salinas, 39, of East Chicago, was found shot at about 9:30 p.m. by East Chicago police at 139th and Elm streets. He was later pronounced dead at St. Catherine’s Hospital. Salinas had been scheduled to appear Jan. 30 in Lake Criminal Court on charges alleging he shot a 44-year-old Hammond man in the chest and leg March 3 in a bathroom at El Sombrero bar at 2001 Broadway. It’s unclear if Salinas’ death is related to that incident, as of Jan. 15. 
  • On Jan. 14, Jeremiah Simon, 18, of Merrillville, was found gunned down in the 5400 block of Maryland Street. Simon was found about 3 a.m. in the rear yard of a home by officers who were responding to reports of gunfire in the area, police said.
  • On Jan 15, Raymond McDuffie, 61, of Portage, was found shot multiple times in his crash vehicle near 5th and Clark in Gary. He was pronounced dead at 5:25 p.m. at the hospital.

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