Police: Shooting was 'vigilante justice'

March 2, 2009 3:20:17 PM PST
Police in northwest Indiana are investigating a shooting that they say is linked to the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. Investigators believe the girl's relatives may have taken the law into their own hands.

Police say this is definitely a case of vigilante justice: 24 hours after a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted, her father and brother went after a man they believe to be the suspect, and that man ended up with a gunshot wound to his back.

The chain of events began on Martin Luther King Drive in Gary. The girl was waiting inside the lobby of an apartment for her school bus when someone grabbed her.

"The unknown party approached her from behind and took her to the 1800-block of Mississippi Street, where he assaulted her," said Lt. Samuel Roberts, Gary Police Department.

Police say the 15-year-old was assaulted several times inside a vacant building. She was taken to the hospital where she was interviewed by police.

Twenty-four hours later, police say, the girl's father and brother took justice into their own hands.

"They spotted a man that they believe fit the description and attempted to stop him," said Lt. Roberts.

The shooting took place at 8:30 in the morning right across from a busy early childhood center. The shooting victim is a 22-year-old male who police say it a person of interest in the sexual assault.

"Our understanding is that the victim of the shooting is being cooperative," said Lt. Roberts.

Police say residents should be warned about vigilante justice.

"Rape is a horrible crime and people become angry if they are victims or a family member is a victim. But you have to temper that and let the police department handle it," Lt. Roberts said.

Even though the shooter has not been caught, police say his family is fully cooperating with police.

Police continue to investigate the rape and the shooting. So far there haven't been charges in either of the cases.