Police investigate 3 NW Ind. roadway shootings

September 23, 2010

Authorities say the shootings appear to be random, but it is possible that they are linked.

The victims were reportedly going about their days when each of them at some point realized they had been hit either by bullets or pellets.

With the help of her husband, Deborah Smith returned home from the hospital Wednesday afternoon after being shot in the head Monday night.

No suspects are in custody.

The unifying fact between the cases at this point seems to be that the victims each saw a dark colored SUV at the time they were shot.

"Whoever needs to be punished and caught - that is it," said Smith. "This is evil - this is an evil, evil thing to do to somebody."

Paramedics helped Smith that night, but she later went to the hospital. Lake County, Indiana authorities are asking for the community's help solving the case.

"I heard a very, very loud noise, and then ringing in my ears, and then there was blood everywhere," said Smith.

Smith, who turned 53 in the hospital Tuesday, says she was driving near Randolph Street and 93rd running an errand to Wal-Mart. She was shot after 11 p.m.

"They know better, they know it's serious, and it was intended to hurt somebody - it wasn't a prank, whoever did it, did it with the intent to hurt somebody, and we hope to apprehend that individual or individuals," said Lake County, Indiana Sheriff Joe Dominguez.

In the meantime, investigators say two Porter County cases may be linked to Smith's case.

Minutes after Smith was shot, Porter County Sheriff's Police say a man was hit in the neck by pellets or BBs at a nearby intersection.

Police say he sought help at the same gated community where Smith was given first aid.

"This second victim, when he went to seek help at the Lake of the Four Seasons security shanty, I understand that the other victim, the woman from Lake County, was being treated at the time," said Porter County Sheriff David Lain.

Authorities are also investigating a third incident last week involving Army reservist Nicholas Brooks, 21. He was riding his bicycle to work around 4 a.m. when he was hit in the hand and face by pellets.

"His lip was pretty bad, almost like he'd been in a fight, really punched out or something," said Ben Knox, Brooks's stepfather.

Like in the other two incidents, police say the shooter was riding in a dark-colored SUV.

Knox says his neighborhood has been plagued recently by numerous incidents of vandalism caused by pellet guns, paint ball rifles, and baseball bats, and he believes his stepson's shooting is related.

"It could have taken out his eye. It could have done major damage to him. Fortunately, it was minor. It could have been very severe," said Knox. "He could have wrecked his bike or something or fallen and got run over by another car."

Smith says it will take time for her to recover, saying she is "very nauseated, and my head hurts terribly."

Smith said that at this point, doctors have decided to leave the bullet inside her head because it has not moved.

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