Mysterious Attitude
2002-02-14 04:00:50 (UTC)


This is tha real article from a local newspaper called the
Hammond Times.

Police shoot-out startles neighbors

BY BRADLEY COLE Times Staff Writer

EAST CHICAGO -- Residents in the 3900 block of Alder Street
awoke to the sound of gunfire Monday morning when an East
Chicago police officer and several gunmen traded gunshots.

Police were called to 3910 Alder St. shortly after 6:30
a.m., after a caller reported seeing four suspicious-
looking men.

When Officer Michael Vasquez arrived at the residence and
opened the front gate, he saw four men dressed in black,
wearing ski masks and holding guns, police said.

Vasquez identified himself as a police officer and ordered
the men to drop their weapons, police said. One of the men
allegedly pointed a gun at Vasquez, who responded by firing
his weapon.

Neighborhood residents said as many as 20 shots rang out,
as other police officers arrived. No one was reported

East Chicago Police Chief Frank Alcala said three men were
arrested and one escaped.

"One of our officers chased him, but he got away," Alcala
said. "The officer quickly returned to assist the other
officers. These men and the person who called this in are
heroes because someone would have been killed if proper
action wasn't taken."

The identities of the three men who were arrested were
being withheld as the investigation and search for the
fourth gunman continued, police said.

Alcala said the Lake County Sheriff's Department is
investigating the incident because Vasquez fired his gun.
He said it's typical policy that when an officer fires his
gun, an outside agency is brought in to impartially
investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, East Chicago police detectives are looking into
a possible connection between the men and the death of a 14-
year-old boy that was discovered Saturday on a sidewalk at
the rear of 3807 Parrish Ave., also in the Harbor.

Police said they found Steven Rodriguez, 14, of 4711
Grasselli St., East Chicago, shortly after 2:29 p.m. Police
said there were bullet casings lying near Rodriguez's body,
but he was not shot.

The Lake County coroner's office said Rodriguez suffered
facial trauma, but an exact cause of death will not be
issued pending an autopsy and toxicology.

Police said both cases remain under investigation.

Residents of the predominately Hispanic neighborhood said
they were shocked by the incident Monday morning.

One man said he heard the shots, but thought nothing of it
until he left for work.

"There were police all over the place," he said. "They had
the street sealed off and they had a lot cars spread out.
As I left for work, one of the cops chased me down and
questioned who I was and where I was going."

The man said the incident was rare for the neighborhood,
which he described as mostly older and quiet.

Other residents said they didn't hear the gunshots and
weren't aware that anything was wrong until they stepped

One resident, who said she has lived on the block for 30
years said she couldn't remember anything like this
happening before.

"It's a pretty quiet neighborhood," one mother
said. "Usually the only noise you hear is the small
children playing in the street."

Bradley Cole can be reached at [email protected] or (219
( 933-3372.

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