GARY (CBS) — Two police officers were wounded in a shootout following a standoff late Monday in Gary, and a suspect was shot and killed.
Early Monday afternoon, Gary police officers were assisting Merrillville police in trying to apprehend a person of interest in the 2500 block of Waverly Drive, at Taft Place, according to Gary police Lt. Dawn Westerfield.
Upon making contact with the suspect, he retreated into the house and started a standoff, Westerfield said.
A Gary police SWAT team was activated around 1:50 p.m. and tried to negotiate, Westerfield said. It did not work, and the SWAT team went inside the house around 4:20 p.m. when the suspect opened fire, she said.
“It was loud. It was like real close and loud – ‘Pow! Pow! Pow!’” said witness Jeremy Tautges.
Cpl. James Nielsen, a 17-year veteran, was shot once in the chest – which was protected by his bulletproof vest – and once in the left arm. Cpl. John Arbitey, a 14-year veteran, took shrapnel to his chin and abdomen.
Both officers’ conditions were stabilized, police said.
The suspect was shot and killed, police said.
“I don’t know which way, the direction the where bullets go,” Tautges said. “There were so many of them so I was like, let me get down too.”
The mother and brother of the man who was shot dead identified as Keenan McCain, 29. They said they talked on the phone during the standoff and McCain said he was scared by the entire situation.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, McCain’s mother did not want to go on camera. But she was distraught.
“I’m sad right now because my son passed away on my birthday,” she said. “All I asked the police to do was let me go over there to where he was, so he could see me, and my baby would have came out of there.”
McCain’s brother said he urged him to come out of the house.
“I talked to him told him to come out, and he said he was coming out,” McCain’s brother said. “I talked to the negotiator and he said he’d give him a chance to come out.”
“I just don’t know where it went wrong,” McCain’s mother said.
Merrillville police confirmed that officers were after the suspect in connection with the murder of a Betty J. Claudio, 44, whose body was found in the Merrillville Hampton Inn.
McCain’s family said they knew nothing about the Merrillville homicide.
On Tuesday morning, police in Merrillville will provide more information on the Claudio case.
‘“I need some answers,” McCain’s mother said. “I lost my son today, and I’m hurt.”