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Prosecutors up against clock as they pursue potential charges in wake of shooting of two cops Saturday

Prosecutors up against clock as they pursue potential charges in wake of shooting of two cops Saturday

Growlers on Highway

Growlers on Highway in Highland. 

Investigators are up against the clock as they continue gathering evidence for possible criminal charges against all parties involved in an early Saturday morning melee outside Growlers Bar on Highway in Highland.

O’Neill Cruz-Burgos, 25, of Burnham, Illinois, is in custody at the Lake County Jail, but police can only hold him for 48 hours without filing a charge, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said early Sunday afternoon.

A representative with the prosecutor's office was at the Highland Police Department on Sunday talking to officers, he said.

"There are still a lot of unanswered questions," Carter said.

Two off-duty police officers were involved in the incident and both suffered injuries, he said.

East Chicago police Officer David Aguilera, who was at the bar as a patron, was shot in the head, according to sources.

Aguilera was bleeding from the brain and eventually transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, sources said. East Chicago FOP Lodge 59 stated in a Facebook post that Aguilera was released Sunday. 

The other man shot — an off-duty Gary officer named Dwayne Brown who was working as a bouncer at the bar — was taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary and eventually released, sources said.

Police were dispatched to Growlers, 2816 Highway Ave., at about 2:39 a.m. for a disturbance call, a Highland police news release stated.

Upon arrival, officers discovered Aguilera and Brown injured in the parking lot.

A preliminary investigation revealed that two men who left Growlers earlier in the night returned and tried to re-enter near closing time, Highland police said.

Security staff told them the business was no longer allowing patrons inside, sparking a disagreement between the two men and the two off-duty officers.

Sources said Aguilera stepped in and identified himself as a police officer and was shot.

Minutes after arriving on the scene, officers located two men walking a block from the bar. They were stopped by police and taken into custody for questioning, the release stated.

A Gary Police Department spokeswoman deferred questions to the Highland Police Department.

East Chicago police did not respond to requests for comment Saturday or Sunday.


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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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