Police Shoot, Kill Elderly Man Armed With Shotgun Outside Lake Station City Hall

CHICAGO (CBS) — Police say an 84-year-old man who was burned out of his home less than a year ago fired a shotgun Tuesday outside the City Hall in Lake Station, Indiana, east of Gary, and confronted police, who killed him.

The gunman, identified by police and the Lake County coroner as John Laco, had moved from friend’s home to friend’s home since the Feb. 10 fire, when different Lake Station officers saved his life.

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Robert Byrd said bystanders called 911 at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to report that Laco held a shotgun aloft and fired it once into the air in the parking lot shared by the Lake Station municipal complex and public library.

Three officers responded within moments to find the barrel of the shotgun hanging outside the driver’s window to Laco’s car. Byrd said that when the officers ordered Laco to drop the gun, he allegedly emerged from the car to confront them, “with the shotgun pointed at the officers, at which time all three police officers began to fire” at Laco. The number of shots was not immediately clear, although witnesses said they heard more than a dozen shots.

The gunfire broke a window in the public library, which police placed on lockdown until police could determine that Laco acted alone. Byrd said the task force is trying to determine if Laco is the person who fired a shot 18 hours earlier at Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist’s home.

Soderquist had been at City Hall 10-15 minutes before the shooting, but Byrd said Soderquist had left the area.

Byrd said there is no known bad blood between the men. But Soderquist is under indictment on charges of using campaign funds and money from the city’s food pantry to feed a gambling addiction, charges Soderquist has denied.

In fact, Byrd said, the February fire is the only contact of consequence police had with Laco before Tuesday. Laco suffered only minor injuries in the February fire, and was released at the time after treatment at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Hobart.

Byrd said the task force has mobilized 20 detectives from various Lake County departments, as well as the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police.

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