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UPDATE: Investigation into 3-year-old's shooting of highest priority, police chief says

From the ICYMI: Here are the most-read stories from the past week series
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The man's death is being investigated by Gary and Lake County authorities. 

GARY — Four people — including a 3-year-old shot three times — were wounded in three separate shootings within 12 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, police said.

Gary police found the 3-year-old boy after responding about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday to the 1700 block of East Seventh Avenue for a report of a shooting, Gary police Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

The child was taken to a local hospital. His mother was at work at the time, Westerfield said.

The person caring for the child was expected to be questioned by detectives, she said.

Gary Police Chief Brian Evans said his department takes every shooting seriously, but a case involving an innocent child is of the highest priority.

His officers were working diligently to gather evidence in the case, he said.

"The community can rest assured the Gary Police Department is dedicating the full weight of our resources to the investigation and determining exactly how this child came to be shot," Evans said.

3 others shot, wounded

Earlier in the night, police were dispatched about 5:40 p.m. Tuesday to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus after two 29-year-old Gary men arrived with gunshot wounds, Westerfield said.

The men told police they were in a vehicle at the intersection of West Fifth Avenue and Bigger Street when a vehicle pulled up next to them and someone in that vehicle shot at them. They drove to the hospital for treatment, police said.

The men did not provide a make and model of the suspect's vehicle, police said.

About 4:40 a.m. Wednesday, another man arrived at Methodist Northlake with a gunshot would, Westerfield said.

The 40-year-old Gary man told police he was shot at a gas station in the city's Miller section, but refused to provide additional details, she said.

He suffered two gunshot wounds to the arm, police said.

A total of 14 nonfatal gunshot wounds have been recorded so far this year in Gary, down from 16 at the same time last year, Gary police Lt. Thomas Pawlak said.

Nonfatal gunshot wounds were up nearly 16% in 2020, from 106 in 2019 to 178 in 2020, he said.

Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to call detectives in the Violent Crimes Division at 219-881-1210. To remain anonymous, call 866-CRIME-GP. 

Other kids lost to gun violence

Gary ended 2020 with 54 homicides, four fewer than the year before. At least four of those shot to death in Gary last year were children.

Demetrius Townsel Jr., 12, of Chicago, was fatally shot May 16 while riding in a car in Gary. No charges have been filed in his homicide.

Christopher Watson, 16, of Gary, was fatally shot July 5 in the 800 block of Pierce Street. Detectives suspect his family was targeted, police said.

Amari Aaron, 14, and his father, Kelton Aaron, 39, were found shot to death Oct. 5 inside a home where they had been working in Gary. Their case remains under investigation.

Traeshaun Toney, 14, died July 17 after his 23-year-old mentally ill brother shot him in the 700 block of Kentucky Street in Gary, court records allege. The brother was charged.

As police investigated the shooting of the 3-year-old Wednesday afternoon, Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas heard evidence during a bail hearing for a man accused of shooting 14-year-old Arion Lilly in the back April 25, 2019, in the 1100 block of Rutledge Street. Police found 20 spent shell casings at the crime scene, according to testimony.

Lilly was walking from a barbershop when he found himself in the midst of a shootout between people two passing cars and attempted to duck and run. The eighth grader was recalled by fellow students after his death as a practical joker and "very nice young man."

Defendant Anthony L. Triplett Jr., 22, of Gary, was charged with murder in May 2019 in connection with Lilly's homicide. Triplett has pleaded not guilty and has asked that bail be set in his case.

Murder defendants typically are not afforded bond, unless the court determines — after a series of evidentiary hearings — that the presumption of guilt of murder is not strong. Cappas was expected to make a decision on whether to grant Triplett bail at a later date.

Triplett is currently scheduled to stand trial starting March 24.

Homicides increased and Lake and LaPorte counties last year, but decreased in Porter County.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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