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Lighthouse basketball coach Marvin Rea and a Block Middle School teacher killed in car accident
Stunned silence was all that came forward from the Gary basketball community after learning of the death of Lighthouse boys basketball coach Marvin Rea on Tuesday.
Pain and tears were shared by most.
"Shock, complete shock, I can't believe it," said Tyrone Robinson, Bowman Academy coach. "Right now, I'm hurting real bad."
Rea, 49, of Gary, and Kelli Nicole Bradley, 34, of Gary, were killed in a five-vehicle pileup about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday on southbound Interstate 65 in Tippecanoe County, near the Ind. 26/172 exit, according to Indiana State Police.
A white 2007 Freightliner semi pulling an intermodal trailer, a red 1998 International semi pulling a flatbed and Rea’s 2006 red Cadillac CTS all were stopped in the left lane because of a crash farther south when they were rear-ended by a white 2017 Chevrolet box truck and a white 2017 Freightliner semi pulling a car hauler, police said.
The car hauler’s driver, a 31-year-old Plainfield, Indiana, man, was distracted and did not see traffic had come to a stop, police said.
It remained unclear whether Rea’s car was first hit by the box truck, or if the box truck was pushed into Rea’s car by the car hauler, police said.
Rea’s car was crushed between the box truck and the flatbed trailer in front of him, killing him and Bradley, a passenger, police said.
The white box truck was spun around, becoming pinned between the flatbed trailer and the car hauler. The car hauler came to rest partially through a guardrail, police said.
The impact also pushed the red international semi into the intermodal trailer.
The box truck driver, a 62-year-old Missouri man, and the Plainfield man were taken to hospitals, police said. The drivers of the two semis at the front of the pileup were not injured.
The crash forced police to shut down I-65 in both directions for several hours.
Bradley was a seventh-grade teacher at Block Middle School in East Chicago. Her loss has greatly impacted those who loved her in that community, a colleague said in an email to The Times.
Robinson and Rea played together at Roosevelt in the 1980s. Under coach Ron Heflin, Rea led the Panthers to the 1987 final four, where Rea was selected as the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner.
Rea then played for Gene Keady at Purdue.
Rea and Robinson started coaching together in 1996 in the AAU circles with the Falcons. The two moved on to Bowman Academy and the seeds of a dynasty were planted in 2007 when the Eagles began playing high school basketball.
In 2010, Rea won the Class A state championship with a 74-52 win over Barr-Reeve. Two years later, Bowman lost to Park Tudor in the Class 2A state final. In 2013, Bowman and Rea returned to the 2A state final and beat Linton-Stockton 86-73.
Then, remarkably, in 2014 Bowman returned to state in the Class 3A championship and lost to Greensburg 89-76.
But getting to state four times in five years is almost unprecedented.
"He built a dynasty," Robinson said. "He was so respected around Indiana."
Longtime friend and assistant coach at Lighthouse, Kenya Stines, could hardly speak on Wednesday morning. He said counselors have been assembled at the Gary charter school to help students deal with this tragedy.
"All the kids were calling (Tuesday night) and wanting me to tell them something different," Stines said. "They were saying, 'Don't call me with this news.' But I gotta be strong for these kids."
Lighthouse is scheduled to play at Marquette Catholic on Friday night, and athletic director Quincy Taylor said that the players voted unanimously to keep the scheduled game. Taylor also said administrators from his school worked with counselors to help the student athletes with their mourning. His Lions were devastated when Taylor arrived at the school.
"We told them it's tough, they're going to hurt," Taylor said. "But we have to remember how Marvin lived his life. He was fun. Charismatic. He had a unique voice in the gym. He lived every day of his life to the fullest and that's what we have to do now."
Taylor, who coached Lighthouse from 2014 through 2016, said no decision was made on Wednesday about who would officially be named the Lions' head coach. He said the adults were too sad to think about that. But he expects Lighthouse's administration would make a call on that Thursday.
Stines and Rea were also teaming with East Chicago's E'Twaun Moore, of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, to start a youth league in Gary in the spring.
"I'm getting calls from everywhere," Stines said. "People can't believe it. It's so sad. I lost my friend."
68-year-old man shot to death at his Gary home
GARY — A 68-year-old man was shot and killed Monday night at his home in the city's Horace Mann neighborhood, according to the Lake County coroner's office.
Ronald Richardson was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound at the scene in the 300 block of Taft Street, a coroner's release said.
Gary police were dispatched to the area at 7 p.m., records show.
Police have not yet released information on the homicide.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Gary/Lake County Metro Homicide Unit at 219-755-3855. To remain anonymous, call 866-CRIME-GP.
UPDATE: White Lodging selling off 82 hotel contracts as it goes on national building spree
White Lodging is selling off nearly half of its hotels under management.
The Merrillville-based hospitality company, which has a national profile, is selling 82 of its suburban hotel management contracts to Interstate Hotels and Resorts for an undisclosed sum. It is unloading a collection of Marriott, IHG, Hilton and Hyatt hotels, mostly between 100 and 200 rooms, that are scattered around the country "from Salt Lake City to West Palm Beach."
“This repositioning allows us to better focus on assets consistent with our market and development objectives while partnering with owners looking to grow with us," White Lodging Chairman and Founder Bruce White said. “We will use the net proceeds to continue to reinvest in strategic select and full service assets.”
With fewer hotels under management, White Lodging laid off some employees at its corporate headquarters in Merrillville.
"With our new streamlined portfolio, we unfortunately had to reduce a limited number of jobs in the home office," company spokeswoman Kathleen Sebastian said. The company did not disclose how many jobs were eliminated.
White Lodging will be left with 100 hotels under 26 different brands, 40 restaurants and eight rooftop bars, once current projects get completed. Its brands include Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Global, and InterContinental Hotel Group, and it also operates luxury ranches in Wyoming.
The company has opened seven hotels this year and plans to have 18 more hotels and restaurant/bar concepts all across the country open within the next 24 months.
“This transition is a major shift in our portfolio mix, allowing us the flexibility to capitalize on new opportunities that will strengthen the diversity of our national footprint,” said Deno Yiankes, President and CEO, Investments and Development.
The 82 hotels accounted for less than 25 percent of White Lodging's revenue. Most were not developed by White Lodging and only three are full-service hotels with restaurants and meeting space.
“The sale of these contracts will allow White Lodging to increase its focus on the disciplined execution of our key initiatives, the training and development of our associates and creating incremental value for our partners,” said Ken Barrett, President and CEO of White Lodging’s Hotel Management Division.
The sale is expected to close next year.
"We are still growing and developing all over the US," Sebastian said. "We do favor markets that we think have good growth potential such as Chicago, Indy, Louisville, Denver and Austin."
UPDATE: Trump flouts warnings, declares Jerusalem Israel's capital
WASHINGTON — Defying dire, worldwide warnings, President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with decades of U.S. and international policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace. He also for the first time personally endorsed the concept of a "two-state solution" for Israel and the Palestinians, provided both sides agree to it.
"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," he said in a White House address, calling it "overdue" and in the best interests of the United States. He said recognition acknowledged the "obvious" that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's government despite the disputed status that is one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality," he said.
Trump also directed that the State Department begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as required by U.S. law. Officials said, however, that the move will take years to complete.
Trump maintained that his decision would not compromise the city's geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.
Ahead of Trump's speech, Arab and Muslim leaders spoke about the potential for violence. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian protesters burned American and Israeli flags. They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as their "eternal capital," language that Israelis similarly use for their nation.
Even America's closest allies in Europe questioned the wisdom of Trump's radical departure from the past U.S. position, which was studiously neutral over the sovereignty of the city.
Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. It's also home to Islam's third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered protests in the past, in the Holy Land and beyond.
America's consulate in Jerusalem has ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem's Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.
Gary sued over 'welcoming city' ordinance; lawyer claims it violates Indiana's sanctuary city ban
INDIANAPOLIS — A prominent Hoosier attorney with strong connections to conservative political causes is suing the city of Gary for allegedly violating Indiana's prohibition on sanctuary cities.
But some Gary city councilmen are willing to consider repealing the ordinance if it means having to defend the lawsuit, they said at Tuesday night's council meeting.
Attorney James Bopp Jr., of Terre Haute's Bopp Law Firm, filed suit Tuesday in Lake Circuit Court on behalf of four plaintiffs seeking to prohibit enforcement of the "welcoming city" ordinance approved by the Gary City Council and enacted May 22 by Democratic Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
Bopp claims the ordinance runs afoul of a 2011 Indiana law that prohibits local governments and their employees, including police, from refusing to communicate or cooperate with federal immigration authorities to protect noncitizens who entered or remained in the United States without legal permission.
Specifically, Bopp says, among other violations, the ordinance impedes communication by requiring city agencies and employees to not investigate or assist in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of any person, absent a court order.
He alleges it also prevents Gary police from fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities, in addition to unnecessarily requiring a criminal warrant before transferring any person in police custody to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.
"The Indiana Legislature has already acted to protect Hoosiers from criminal illegal aliens by ensuring that local officials cooperate with federal officials to ensure their deportation. But Gary forbids this," Bopp said.
"And where cities violate Indiana's anti-sanctuary-city law they put their own citizens at risk. The courts in Indiana must enjoin such violations."
Freeman-Wilson, who previously served as Indiana's attorney general, said the city believes its ordinance fully complies with Indiana law and Bopp's lawsuit is a "ploy designed to further a misdirected political agenda."
"We look forward to vigorously defending this lawsuit," she said. "Gary, Indiana has always provided leadership in Northwest Indiana in ensuring equal opportunity for all. This ordinance is no different."
Tuesday night, Councilman Herb Smith, D-at large, told fellow council members that he wanted to revisit the welcoming city ordinance. Smith said he has spoken to attorneys and it appears to clearly be in violation of Indiana law.
"If we have to defend it maybe we want to consider repealing it," Smith said.
He said he plans to bring the issue forward at the Dec. 19 City Council meeting. Council President Ron Brewer, D-at large, said he would also be in favor of repealing it if it was brought back for reconsideration.
In addition to halting enforcement of the Gary ordinance, Bopp is requesting the court order the city to pay the costs and attorney's fees for the four plaintiffs.
According to the lawsuit they are: Jeff Nicholson and Douglas Grimes, who both live and work in Gary; Greg Serbon, a Lake County resident who often works in Gary; and Cheree Calabro, an Indiana resident with "interests in the enforcement of the law and in public safety."
Immigration issues have figured prominently in national, state and local politics since Republican President Donald Trump was elected last year, in part, based on his plans to deny federal funds to sanctuary cities and to build a wall on the nation's southern border.
In January, the Chicago City Council and Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel reaffirmed Chicago's status as a sanctuary city shortly after Trump signed an executive order threatening to strip federal grants from municipalities that refuse to assist ICE.
Since Indiana prohibits sanctuary cities, Merrillville attorney Alfredo Estrada, along with other immigrant rights supporters, promoted "welcoming city" ordinances as an alternative to show support for immigrants living in Northwest Indiana.
Gary and East Chicago both adopted welcoming city ordinances. Lake Station considered one, but postponed action on it indefinitely due to lingering questions about how it would work in practice.
Estrada could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But in September he told The Times that a welcoming city ordinance doesn't prohibit cooperation with ICE.
Instead, he said it's designed to ensure information about the immigration status of individuals seeking government services is not kept on file.
"If you don't have the information, you can’t communicate it," Estrada said.
The immigration rhetoric was ratcheted up another level Monday when U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Brownsburg, a Munster native running for Indiana's Republican U.S. Senate nomination, filed legislation that seeks to impose five-year prison terms and $1 million fines on local officials who obstruct federal immigration enforcement.
"Politicians don't get to pick and choose what laws to comply with. Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so," Rokita said.
"It's time the federal government gets serious about enforcing immigration laws and holding politicians accountable who conspire to break them."