(CBS) – Authorities say a suspect with a lengthy criminal record has been charged in the death of a Gary, Ind. police officer earlier this month.
Lake County Ind. Sheriff John Buncich said Carl Blount, 26, faces one count of murder.
“The work that went into this is unbelievable,” Buncich said while crediting a variety of police agencies Thursday. “Each and every one of these investigators were driven by the ardent desire to find those responsible for the murder of one of our own.”
Veteran Gary Police Officer Jeff Westerfield was shot and killed in the driver seat of his patrol car at 26th Avenue and Van Buren Place on July 6. Westerfield was one of several officers who had responded to a domestic disturbance between Blount and his girlfriend hours before.
Police took people into custody early on. Buncich said Blount has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2007 that includes allegations of resisting arrest and battering officers. When asked to explain Blount’s motive in Westerfield’s slaying, the sheriff replied: “He’s just a violent individual.”
The suspect’s half-brother implicated Blount in the slaying, Buncich said.
Family members of Westerfield expressed relief that a suspect has been charged.
Prosecutors will consider making the slaying a death-penalty case, the sheriff told reporters at a news conference.
“I am pleased that the suspect has been charged, and I hope this brings a certain amount of relief to the family and the men and women of the Gary Police Department,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a written statement. “However, we are still mourning the loss of one of our own and expect that Blount and anyone else involved be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
There’s still work to be done on the case, Buncich said. The .40-caliber handgun Blount is believed to have used in the murder — stolen from Indianapolis — has not been recovered, authorities said.
Police are still looking for information that would help convict Blount. Local authorities have offered a $10,000 reward, and federal authorities have offered a separate $10,000, the sheriff said. Information can be phoned to these numbers: (219) 755-3346 and (800) 750-2746.