A man shot and killed himself after he and three others forced their way into a home near Valparaiso, then were chased by a neighbor who was wounded in the hand during the pursuit, authorities say.
The chase began around 5 p.m. Wednesday and ended 10 miles away near Hobart when the neighbor, a Hammond firefighter, crashed into the suspects' car, police said.
The four suspects got out of the car and started running, according to Hobart Police Chief Jeff White said. FBI agents happened to be at the gas station nearby and chased them, White said.
Three of the men were arrested, but the fourth shot and killed himself near the intersection of U.S. 30 and Colorado Street, police said. The neighbor was shot in the hand during the case and was treated at St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, officials said.
Police said the four drove up to a home in Porter Township late Wednesday afternoon, and three of them got out and approached a woman, 52, who lived there. They asked for directions to the local high school and acted out of breath, and she offered to get them water, according to Porter County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Larry LaFlower.
The three then forced their way into the woman's home, kicked and punched her, threatened her at gunpoint and stole cash and guns, LaFlower said.
“Then she said her neighbor chased after them, and he's the one who kept dispatchers informed as to their location.” LaFlower said.
A woman who answered the the firefighter's telephone said he wasn't currently talking about the incident. Hammond Fire officials said he was treated and released from a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
A neighbor said Thursday that she was surprised by all the police activity in their usually very quiet neighborhood last night. When her husband called the firefighter, who is plugged in to the neighborhood news, they discovered that the firefighter was a hero.
The firefighter told them about the incident and quietly relayed how he had followed the suspects and was currently in the hospital.
"He's just a happy go lucky guy," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. "He's just a quiet, good guy. He just helps all the neighbors."
She said the fireman had been off from work on Wednesday and had just finished helping her husband repair a tractor at about 4 p.m. He then checked in on his neighbor for whom he sometimes house sits.
"They finished (with the tractor) and that's when it all happened," said the woman. "Now I feel a little safer."
Charges were pending, police said.
Twitter: @ChicagoBreakingCopyright © 2015, RedEye