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GRIFFITH — A Gary man struck his girlfriend in the face with a cellphone, strangled her and ripped her shirt off Wednesday after initially becoming angry because his truck wouldn't start, police said.

The 54-year-old man showed up at Nail Tek, 115 E. Ridge Road in Griffith, about 5:30 p.m. to pick up the woman, Investigations Cmdr. Keith Martin said.

The 40-year-old Gary woman told police the vehicle trouble enraged the man, who then accused her of looking through his cellphone and struck her in the face with it.

The woman ran into a nearby barbershop, and the man followed her inside. He grabbed her by the arms and dragged her out and across a sidewalk, police said.

The woman escaped and ran back into Nail Tek, but the man grabbed her by the throat and pulled her outside, police said. The man is accused of ripping her shirt off while choking her and verbally threatening her.

Nail Tek customers began yelling at the man to get off the woman. The man let her go, she ran inside the nail salon and employees locked the doors, police said. The man left before police arrived.

An officer was working on a report just after 9 p.m. when the man returned to his truck and was arrested on suspicion of felony strangulation and misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury, Martin said. Formal charges were pending Thursday.

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Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.