CROWN POINT — Police allege a woman was sexually assaulted at gunpoint at her Merrillville home by a man she had a previous relationship with, despite a no-contact order issued against the man.
Felix S. Sherwood, 26, of Merrillville, was charged Wednesday in Lake Criminal Court with two counts of rape, criminal confinement, intimidation, domestic battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, strangulation and pointing a firearm, all felony offenses. He was also charged with two misdemeanors.
The woman called 911 on June 10 to report Sherwood was pounding on the front door of her Merrillville home, which violated a no contact order issued by the courts June 1, 2017.
Sherwood fled the home before police arrived, records state. The woman decided to leave her house for the night, but when she returned there later to grab her belongings, Sherwood met her at the door and forced his way inside, records state.
The woman said Sherwood beat her, pulled her hair and choked her, records state. He then allegedly pulled out a firearm and forced her into a bedroom, where he ordered her at gunpoint to perform oral sex.
The woman said Sherwood also raped her, records state. The woman fled the home afterward, and police were contacted at St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, records state.
Doctors noted the woman suffered injuries to her groin, knee and neck in the attack, records state.
Sherwood already faces felony charges of criminal recklessness and resisting law enforcement in connection to an arrest June 1 in Lake County, court records state.
Sherwood remained wanted by police Thursday, according to a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
He is not afforded bond on the new charges, records state.
HIGHLAND — A man wearing a white Mardi Gras-style mask shot a woman and fled in a white vehicle late Thursday, police said.
The woman told police she arrived just before 10:40 p.m. in the 8900 block of Pettit Drive and noticed a white, compact or midsize car with tinted windows parked out front, Highland police said.
As the woman exited her vehicle, the man in the mask appeared from the side of a residence and shouted something to her.
The woman saw he had a gun and began to run. The man fired, shooting her in the leg, police said.
The man then entered the white car and drove north on Pettit.
The man was described as possibly white and about 6 feet tall, with the mask.
Police said the motive for the crime was unclear. Investigators were working with other local law enforcement to determine if any correlations exist in recent robberies, Cmdr. John Banasiak said.
Police advised residents to always relinquish valuables if they become the target of violent crime and try to focus on personal safety and remembering details. Valuables can be replaced, and being a good witness is important, police said.
Residents also should be aware of surroundings and immediately call 911 to report anything suspicious.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call investigators at 219-838-3184.
HAMMOND — A Chicago man was charged Thursday with stealing more than $600,000 in the April 28 armored truck heist that one person close to the investigation previously described as the "biggest robbery that the city (of Hammond) has ever seen."
Investigators this week allegedly found handwritten plans diagramming the Brink's truck robbery in Akeem Jackson's apartment in Chicago, court records state.
Jackson, 29, was arrested Thursday and faces one charge of Hobbs Act robbery. He is one of three people allegedly involved in the heist, carried out in the parking lot of Chase Bank, 4204 Calumet Ave., in Hammond, two months ago.
Only Jackson has been arrested in the case so far.
During the April 28 robbery, Jackson removed a key from the Brink's truck driver and gained access to the armored car, court records state. He didn't ask him for the key, but instead took it from him and easily gained access to the truck.
Jackson was "searching it in a manner which led investigators to believe he had extensive knowledge of the inside of the truck," the complaint states.
Jackson was employed as a Brink's truck driver until he was fired in 2016 for failing to show up to work, investigators said in the complaint.
The Brink's truck driver told police he heard one of the robbers fire a single shot before fleeing in a getaway vehicle, a 2002 brown Cadillac.
Hammond police found a vehicle matching that description ablaze in a field on State Line Road near 136th Avenue, but the robbers had abandoned the car and fled, records state.
Surveillance footage from Chase Bank has been instrumental in the investigation, authorities have said.
A review of surveillance footage revealed that a Cadillac bearing the Illinois license plate S372316 passed a camera located at Indianapolis Boulevard and State Line Road coming into the city of Hammond at 5:55 a.m. that morning.
High-quality cameras captured the same vehicle parked and conducting surveillance on Chase Bank from the nearby Econo Lodge hotel parking lot that overlooks the route driven by the Brink's truck to the bank.
That same Cadillac was located March 6 at 3620 S. Rhodes Ave. in Chicago, court records show, leading investigators to Jackson's apartment.
On May 21, police were tipped off that Jackson and a woman were involved in the robbery, had been seen with large amounts of money and recently vacationed in Florida, court records state.
During a search of Jackson's place, detectives found between $5,000 and $6,000, along with two hand-drawn plans diagramming the April 28 robbery.
The drawings were labeled with "ATM" and "truck," and even listed the names or nicknames of other robbers, and how much each participant would receive from split earnings.
"One of the plans was located in Jackson's room and the other was located in the living room of the residence," the complaint states.
When interviewed, Jackson allegedly admitted to the robbery, but then backtracked and said he lied. He then reversed course again and said he did take part in the robbery and was able to confirm details that investigators never released to the public.
Online court records show Jackson has a detention hearing set for 12:30 p.m. Friday before Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich.
He is in custody with the U.S. Marshals Service.
FBI at one point was offering up to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest.
This case was investigated by the FBI Gang Response Investigative Team and the Hammond Police Department.
"Prosecuting violence crime is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney's Office. If convicted, Mr. Jackson will face severe consequences," U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch said in a release. "Shortly, I will hire additional assistant U.S. attorneys to focus on and increase violent crime prosecutions such as this one. I commend the FBI and Hammond Police Department for their work investigating this brazen robbery."
CROWN POINT — A veteran Lake County police sergeant has retired after being charged with drunken driving and causing a hit-and-run wreck Monday night.
Brian J. Czerwinski, 49, of Crown Point, who served 26 years on the county police force, delivered a retirement notice Thursday to Sheriff Oscar Martinez, according to County Police Chief William Paterson.
Three days earlier, the sheriff suspended Czerwinski following what would be his third alcohol-related violation in 18 years.
Paterson said Thursday the sheriff had been preparing disciplinary charges against Czerwinski before the Lake County Police Merit Board, which could have terminated Czerwinski's employment with the department.
He said Czewinski's retirement now makes that procedure unnecessary.
Czerwinski is charged with leaving the scene of a traffic accident, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering a person while operating a vehicle while intoxicated. No trial date is set in the matter.
Crown Point police said Sharon L. Lorek, 66, of Crown Point, was driving her red 2016 Hyundai south on Ind. 55 (Nine Mile Stretch) shortly before 11 p.m. Monday when she was rear-ended near the Heritage Apartments entrance by Czerwinski, who was off duty and driving his personal vehicle.
Jacob Eitel, a nearby resident, told police he heard the crash, saw Czerwinski's vehicle speed away and turn its headlights off. Eitel said he got in his vehicle and followed Czerwinski south on Ind. 55 several blocks to Mohawk Drive where a Crown Point police officer arrived.
After bring arrested, Czerwinski refused to submit to a breath test, according to court records.
Czerwinski told a city officer Monday he "had no recollection of the events that occurred."
Crown Point attorney Walter Alvarez announced Thursday he filed suit against Czerwinski on behalf of Lorek, who he said suffered a concussion, is suffering from pain and may have to undergo surgery.
Two years ago, then-Sheriff John Buncich reduced Czerwinski to desk duty after Czerwinski was found intoxicated at a Crown Point restaurant. No criminal charges were filed against Czerwinski that year.
Police arrested Czerwinski in 2000, when he ran his county-owned 1994 Crown Victoria squad car into a utility pole near 45th and Forrest Drive in Highland. Police administered a breath test indicating he had a blood-alcohol concentration above the legal limit. The prosecutor's office charged Czerwinski that year with drunken driving, but dismissed the case a year later.
Derek Thompson and his Kankakee Valley Kougars football team arrived back at the school in a bus last Thursday after team camp. The first-year coach said he was excited about what he was trying to build in Wheatfield.
Suddenly, the next day, he resigned.
"K.V. and myself agreed it was in the best interest of both parties for me to resign," Thompson said on Thursday afternoon. "I'm not happy about it at all. I had no intention in leaving those boys."
After a great run at Lowell, Thompson moved to DeMotte a month ago after he was hired as a teacher at K.V., too. He said he will not teach there now and is looking for a job elsewhere.
"He resigned," K.V. athletic director John Gray said. "I'm not going to say anything else about it. We're looking for a replacement right now."
Neither Thompson nor Gray would elaborate on why Thompson resigned abruptly.
Thompson played for Kirk Kennedy's 1994 team that shocked Hobart in the regional and advanced to the Red Devils' first semistate. He went on and played at Manchester College before returning to coach in the Region.
He was an assistant at Lake Central in 2000, then coached Lowell's middle school program the next two years. From 2003 through 2009 Thompson was on Merrillville's staff as the Pirates advanced to three semistates in that stretch.
In 2010, he returned to Lowell as the defensive coordinator, helping the Devils advance to the Class 4A state championship game last November. He was hired at K.V. at the end of January.
He replaced Zach Prairie, who went 6-15 in two seasons as K.V.'s head coach. Before Prairie, another Lowell defensive coordinator, Brad Stewart, coached the Kougars for five seasons.
K.V. football has had eight head coaches since 2000.
"I just signed a lease down here," Thompson said. "Less than a month later I'm back to the drawing board. I'm out here weighing my options now."