HIGHLAND — Sources close to an investigation into a recent shooting outside Growlers on Highway said criminal charges are expected to be formally filed Friday against four people connected to the melee.
The Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force completed its investigation and turned over the case to Highland police, the lead agency in the case, Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance, spokesman for the task force, said Thursday.
The Highland Police Department, which asked the task force to assist, was responsible for sending the case to the Lake County prosecutor's office for review.
Highland police were called out for a disturbance at about 2:40 a.m. May 19 at the bar, 2816 Highway Ave., to find two off-duty officers — one with a gunshot wound to his head and another with a gunshot wound to his forearm.
Upon arrival, Highland police initially determined two other people — one of whom was O’Neill Cruz-Burgos, 25, of Burnham, Illinois, sources said — left Growlers and were denied re-entry by security, because it was near closing time.
The disturbance occurred between the two off-duty officers, Cruz-Burgos and another man, and multiple shots were fired.
The two men shot were identified as off-duty Gary police Officer Dwayne Brown, who was working for the bar as security, and off-duty East Chicago police Officer David Aguilera, a patron at the bar.
They were taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary. Aguilera was later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for treatment of a head injury. Both men survived.
Highland police arrested Cruz-Burgos and another man shortly after the shooting.
Both were released early last week without being charged, but prosecutors at that point never ruled out future charges against anyone involved.
It's unknown if the four people directly involved will ultimately face charges or if others could face charges.
Past incidents at Growlers
Highland police released 36 police reports detailing calls involving the bar during the past year, including nine disturbances, two fights and two batteries. In seven cases, officers were conducting routine checks at the bar.
In one case, Aguilera was accused of pointing a gun at a Hammond man during a scuffle in the bar's restroom, reports show.
Aguilera never faced charges in the incident.
In an additional case, Highland police Officer John Swisher was seriously injured in December 2016 when a man who had been drinking at Growlers struck his squad while driving the wrong way on Kennedy Avenue, court records show.
Several Town Council members said they met last week with the owners of Growlers. The owners seemed receptive to suggestions about curtailing incidents at the bar, Councilman Bernie Zemen said.
Zemen said council members have suggested earlier closing times, more selective background checks and hires for bouncer positions, and more community-centered events.
Highland police conducted routine checks last weekend at Growlers and some of the town's other bars.
Highland police also have forwarded several concerns about Growlers to Indiana State Excise Police, Cmdr. John Banasiak said. Indiana Excise police have not updated Highland police on their findings, he said.
Excise police were contacted about Growlers on Tuesday by The Times, and officials declined comment.
Times staff reporters Bill Dolan and Sarah Reese contributed to this report.
Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail
Longtime customers have been flocking to Broadway Cafe on U.S. 30 in Valparaiso to buy lemon rice soup by the gallon and freeze it for later use.
After 23 years, the landmark Greek diner at 1805 E. Morthland Drive will soon serve its last country skillet and final stack of fluffy pancakes.
Broadway Cafe owner George Borovilos, 67, said he plans to retire after 50 years in the restaurant business and an illness. The family-style restaurant, known for its neon signs, Blues Brothers statues, comfy booths, home cooking and glass cake display case, will close for good at 6 p.m. Sunday.
"A restaurant's too much work," he said. "It's seven days a week, 24 hours a day with no break. No more."
Borovilos said he didn't look to sell the vintage 240-seat diner because it's on property owned by neighboring Valparaiso University, and the lease expires in 14 months.
"You couldn't sell it with a lease for just 14 months," he said. "Nobody would buy it."
The community responded with an outpouring of mourning after Broadway Cafe announced its closure on Facebook, with many expressing surprise since "it was always packed." Comments included "what a loss to the community," "you will be missed terribly," and "Broadway has been one of my favorites for 23 years."
Customers asked for recipes, such as for the ranch dressing, the blue cheese dressing and the ever-popular lemon rice soup.
"People call me every five minutes asking why we're closing and say they appreciated coming in," Borovilos said. "They've been coming in to buy the chicken lemon rice soup and freeze it up, but I tell them it's no good that way."
Broadway Cafe had an ice cream parlor and served all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an extensive menu that included crepes, steaks, seafood, Italian cuisine, Asian entrees and "Hoosier-broasted chicken." Best-sellers included Greek pork chops, skillets, the fluffy four-egg omelets and any type of soup, especially lemon rice, cabbage and chicken dumpling.
It was the kind of old-school place where people could find beef liver, fried perch and roasted pork loin, and every dinner came with rolls, dessert and your pick-two choice of salad, soup, cottage cheese or tomato juice.
Customers often would come in over the years to buy the soup by the gallon to serve at family and other social gatherings.
People came from Valparaiso, Hobart, Kouts and other surrounding towns because they liked the food, but especially the value, said Borovilos, who also ran the defunct Broadway Cafe in Merrillville before selling it years ago.
"The price was right, my friend," Borovilos said. "We had soup, salad, mashed potatoes, dessert, anything you want. We had a lot of regulars."
CENTER TOWNSHIP — A 13-year-old girl told police a man in a white pickup truck attempted to entice her into his vehicle Thursday afternoon after she was dropped off at her bus stop in the area of Burlington Beach Road and Charles Street.
The white male driver reportedly asked the girl, "Do you want to go somewhere with me?" according to Porter County Police Sgt. Jamie Erow.
The girl refused the ride and ran home in fear, Erow said.
"She immediately told her mother, who called police as she was outside her residence checking the area," police said.
Porter County and Valparaiso police officers were on scene in less than five minutes, but were unsuccessful in locating the truck or the suspect, Erow said.
The incident occurred at 12:15 p.m. on the final day of classes.
The suspect, who was the sole occupant in the vehicle and spoke to the girl through the passenger-side window, is described as possibly in his 30s, with short, stubby blond/brown hair, Erow said. He was clean shaven, had no visible tattoos and wore a reflective vest.
The white vehicle had a dark blue/black interior, an empty bed with no work box and small scratches along the passenger side door, police said.
There were no other incidents reported in the area, Erow said. But police warn that as summer approaches, the public should remain mindful of their surroundings and to report any suspicious incidents.