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Merrillville jewelry store looted Sunday as cops tied up with nearby protests
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Merrillville jewelry store looted Sunday as cops tied up with nearby protests

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MERRILLVILLE —  After hearing about all the unrest and looting underway this past weekend in his hometown of Chicago, Cullen Wulf said he dreaded taking a call Sunday from the alarm company for his Merrillville jewelry store.

His shop is located near the site of the protest that shut down U.S. 30 for much of the day.

"My heart just sank," he said. "I knew what happened."

UPDATE: Council member resigning after suggesting harm to protesters

Looters had crashed through the glass front doors of his AaLand Diamond Jewelers at the southwest corner of U.S. 30 and Interstate 65 and proceeded to smash 13 glass display cases, taking an unknown amount of jewelry, he said.

"Destruction as far as I can see," Wulf said while cleaning up at the store at 8102 Georgia St. Monday morning and beginning the challenging task of determining what all had been stolen.

The looting took place between 5:30 and 6 p.m. as a large number of police officers from Lake County, Merrillville, Hobart, Schererville and Indiana State Police were tied up a short distance to the east attempting to control protesters in the area of the Southlake Mall, Wulf said.

The racially mixed gathering, like others across the Region and country, was trying to draw attention to a feeling of inequality fueled by last week's death of George Floyd, a black man, while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Wulf said while hearing about the looting in Chicago, he did not think that 24 hours later he would be among the victims in Northwest Indiana.

The jewelry store has been in business since 1971 and at its current location since 2011, said Wulf, who has been owner the past five years.

He was unsure if any other business in the immediate area of his store were also damaged or looted.

Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez reported Sunday night that damage from protesters occurred at Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, at 1555 E 82nd Ave., and Shoe Carnival, at 2340 E. 80th Ave., both of which had broken windows.

UPDATE: River Oaks trade area blocked off while Cal City, Hammond extend curfew

Some protesters removed nozzles from pumps at a Luke gas station near the mall and let gasoline run onto the ground, apparently with the intention of igniting it, the sheriff had said. A sheriff's department tactical team stepped in and made at least one arrest.

WATCH NOW: Michigan City protests move to Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets; curfew issued

"I've cleaned up more glass than I have seen in my life," Wulf said Monday. "It just hurts."

While the majority of the jewelry was locked up a the store, there were sample pieces in the various display cases, he said. He was left with the task of fishing through the broken glass and seeing what was left behind while taking inventory to determine what was taken.

Gallery: Protesters, police clash at Southlake Mall

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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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