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State, defense agree to reduced bond for man charged in Growlers bar shooting of 2 off-duty officers

State, defense agree to reduced bond for man charged in Growlers bar shooting of 2 off-duty officers

CROWN POINT — A 25-year-old man charged in the shooting of two off-duty police officers in May outside a Highland bar was granted a $2,000 bond reduction at a court hearing Tuesday.

O'Neill Cruz-Burgos appeared Tuesday in custody before Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan. Defense attorney William Padula told Sullivan he had reached an agreement with the Lake County prosecutor's office that Cruz-Burgos' current $6,000 cash bond, or $60,000 surety, would be reduced to $4,000, or $40,000 surety.

Sullivan agreed to reduce the bond. She scheduled a new court hearing for Aug. 29.

Cruz-Burgos was arrested June 26 in Steger, Illinois, on felony charges of battery and criminal recklessness in the May 19 fight outside Growlers on Highway, 2816 Highway Ave.

Cruz-Burgos allegedly left the bar in the early morning hours to answer a phone call and was refused re-entry by bouncer Martin D. Rodriguez, court records state. After repeatedly denying Cruz-Burgos re-entry, Rodriguez forcibly removed him from the bar.

The two men began to fight in the bar's parking lot, at which point two off-duty policeman — Gary's Dwayne Brown and East Chicago's David Aguilera — went outside to assist in the situation, records state.

Brown said he heard Cruz-Burgos' cousin, Joshua Ortiz, say he had a weapon, and the man appeared to retrieve something from his vehicle. Brown pulled out his own firearm and used it to hit Ortiz on the head, records state.

Brown's weapon fell to the ground after striking Ortiz. Brown, Ortiz and Cruz-Burgos jumped for the weapon, but Cruz-Burgos came away with it. Cruz-Burgos allegedly told Brown, “I told you I was going to kill you (expletive)," before firing several shots, striking Brown in the arm.

Aguilera then fired his gun at Cruz-Burgos, records state, and Cruz-Burgos shot Aguilera in the head.

Aguilera and Brown were both taken to hospitals. Cruz-Burgos and Ortiz were initially arrested about a block from the bar, but later released pending further investigation.

Cruz-Burgos was charged June 1 in the shooting, but remained wanted on a warrant until June 26.  

Rodriguez, 29, of East Chicago, faces one Class A misdemeanor count of battery alleging he struck Cruz-Burgos repeatedly about the face and head after removing him from the bar.

Also charged in the melee were Breanne Misner, 24, and Chris Aimee Ortiz, 28, of Burnham, who are accused of fighting each other outside the bar at the same time as the other brawl.

Misner, an off-duty Lake County corrections officer who was working as a bouncer for the bar, was placed on administrative leave shortly after the fight.

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.

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