GARY — Police located the vehicle possibly involved in a hit-and-run accident that left a 9-year-old boy dead on Broadway late Sunday.
Markese Jones, of Gary, had been riding south on his bike in the northbound lane when he was struck just before an on-ramp by a dark-colored Buick with tinted windows and black rims. The driver continued driving toward the exit and onto Interstate 80/94 following the accident.
About 1:30 a.m. Monday, police responded to a vehicle fire in the 2500 block of Clark Road and found a Buick in flames, matching the description of the one that killed Jones.
Cmdr. Jack Hamady said officers are still trying to determine whether the burned vehicle was involved. It has been impounded and processed by police.
No arrests have been made.
The Lake County coroner declared Jones dead at 10:50 p.m. while on the scene. The incident occurred near Ind. 53, with the coroner's office being dispatched at 10:15 p.m.
Lake County Accident Reconstruction, Gary fire and Lake County CSI also responded to the scene, helping process the site.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Gary Police Department at 219-881-1209. To remain anonymous, call 866-CRIME-GP.
Check back at nwi.com for updates as this story develops.
MICHIGAN CITY — As a 31-year-old woman crossed the road at Jackson Street and East Michigan Boulevard Monday night, a 2006 Cadillac barreled through the crosswalk before hitting her.
Witnesses told police the driver, Billy S. Morgan, of Michigan City, didn't stop and instead continued through the intersection about 7:25 p.m.
First responders administered CPR to the woman, Danielle Leigh Stevens, of Michigan City, on scene before transporting her to a local hospital where she died.
Officers found Morgan and the black Cadillac in the 300 block of Greeley Avenue — almost three miles west. He faces charges of OWI causing death, a level 4 felony, and leaving the scene of an accident, a level 3 felony.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the Michigan City Police Department.
Other assisting agencies included the LaPorte County sheriff, Michigan City fire, LaPorte County EMS, Trail Creek police and the LaPorte County coroner.
VALPARAISO — Police are investigating a rash of vehicle fires that occurred on the same street early Sunday.
In total, officers said nine cars were damaged in the 100 block of Bush Street — losses totaling more than $20,000. Each blaze was started inside the specific vehicle.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Valparaiso Police Department at 219-462-2135. Tips can also be texted to TIP411 (847-411) by entering “Valpo” in the message field prior to sending the message.
Southlake Mall in Hobart, the second-largest mall in the state of Indiana, is losing its second anchor in just two years as the brick-and-mortar retail industry struggles to maintain its footing in an era of e-commerce.
Sears plans to close its longtime Hobart store, which was one of the two original anchors of the Southlake Mall when it first opened in 1974, as it restructures in bankruptcy court. The 1.3 million-square-foot mall, which is home to nearly 150 retailers, lost Carson's last year after that department store chain was liquidated in bankruptcy.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears, which filed for bankruptcy in October, announced it would close 26 large-format stores around the country as it shifts to a focus on smaller stores. It will shutter the Sears Auto Center at the super-regional mall at U.S. 30 and Mississippi Street in August and close the department store sometime in October.
"Over the past several months, we have worked hard to strengthen our vendor relationships, return our inventory levels to normal, and improve customer satisfaction and operations, however, we have faced a number of challenges returning our stores to sustainable levels of productivity, including differences with Sears Holdings over our purchase agreement and a generally weak retail environment," Sears said in a statement. "These challenges have unfortunately affected our performance and limited our strategic choices."
Looking to transform itself to be more competitive in a changing retail landscape, Sears is looking to buy the outstanding 42% of shares in its Sears Hometown and Outlet stores for $2.25 per share as it aims to transition to a focus on a smaller store format with lower overhead.
"After careful review of where we are today, we believe the right course for the company is to accelerate the expansion of our smaller store formats, which includes opening additional Home & Life stores and adding several hundred Sears Hometown stores after the Sears Hometown and Outlet transaction closes," Sears said in a statement. "We have made the difficult but necessary decision to close 26 large-format Sears and Kmart stores in late October."
The retailer will close Sears and Kmart stores all over the country, including Sears stores in Mishawaka and Bloomingdale, Illinois.
Sears, whose cofounder Alvah Curtis Roebuck worked as a watchmaker in Hammond for 15 years before answering a fateful ad Richard Sears put in the Chicago Daily News, will no longer have any department stores left in Northwest Indiana when the Southlake Mall store closes. There remains a Sears Appliance Outlet store in Portage and a Kmart in Valparaiso.
Long the largest retailer in the world, Sears went from pioneering the mail-order business to become a staple of suburban shopping malls that was so prosperous selling name brands like Kenmore, Craftsman Tools, Serta and Diehard it built the then-tallest skyscraper in the world – The Sears Tower that's since been renamed The Willis Tower – in Chicago's Loop in 1973 as its home base.
The retailer went from having 3,500 stores nationwide in 2010 to just around 400 locations today, many of which are smaller Sears Home Town stores in more rural, retail-starved communities. In recent years, Sears closed stores in Schererville, Valparaiso and Calumet City, and Kmarts in Griffith, Merrillville, Chesterton and LaPorte.
In January, Sears closed the last department store remaining at the Marquette Mall in Michigan City, likely signing the mall's death warrant as the city is now looking for a developer to tear it down and build something new on the site.
A liquidation sale at the Hobart store is expected to begin around Aug. 15. Sears had put the building up for sale last year, hoping to generate revenue through a sale-and-leaseback in which it would occupy but no longer own the space. Along with JC Penney, it was one of the original two anchor stores of the enclosed mall the late Cleveland Indians owner and commercial real estate developer Richard E. Jacobs built by the U.S. 30 interchange on Interstate 65 in then unincorporated Ross Township, before it was annexed by Hobart.
Now JC Penney, Macy's and Dick's Sporting Goods will be the only anchor stores left at Southlake Mall, which is the second largest in Indiana after only Castleton Square in Indianapolis. The Sears at Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne, the third largest mall in Indiana, closed in September and the building will be razed to make for a strip mall-like retail center called the Shoppes at Glenbrook and a Portillo's restaurant.
GARY — Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint throughout the weekend in hopes of reducing the amount of impaired drivers on the roadways, officials say.
Lt. Dawn Westerfield, a spokeswoman for the Gary Police Department, said drivers who are waved into the checkpoint should expect minimal delays and are asked to have their driver's license and vehicle registration in hand.
Westerfield said impaired driving is often a factor in car crashes, so the department hopes to "encourage impaired people from from getting behind the wheel" and instead find an alternative form of transportation.
"We are urging the community to have a designated driver prior to going out for an evening or use a ride share service," Westerfield said in a news release Monday. "The life you save could be your own."