Homeowner fatally shot after confronting burglars, 3 suspects charged

Eric Horng Image
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Homeowner fatally shot after confronting burglars
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Charges have been filed against three young men in connection with the murder of a father of four in northwest Indiana.

PORTAGE, Ind. (WLS) -- Charges have been filed against three young men in connection with the murder of a father of four in northwest Indiana.

The victim was shot outside his Portage home when he confronted a group of men trying to break into his car.

Police say the victim, 36-year-old Alexius Tapia, was armed with a handgun. But so was one of the suspects, the fatal bullet hitting Tapia near the heart.

Tapia was a married father of four and his family is left reeling by his death.

"It's just sad to lose your best friend. He really was my best friend, the only one who could be there for me," said Priscilla Tapia, the victim's daughter.

It happened in the pre-dawn darkness on this quiet Portage block. The three men, police say, broke into at least 10 vehicles in Tapia's neighborhood. A barking dog awakened Tapia to the suspects in his driveway. The 36-year-old mechanic was a lover of cars.

"I guess he seen them, and he just wanted to scare them to get out. But they ended up shooting at him," said Lupita Cruz, the victim's sister.

Police say two of the suspects, Nathaniel Sipe and Korey Izynski, both 19, immediately fled, but Tapia managed to wrestle 18-year-old Thomas Reichler to the ground.

Tapia, armed with a handgun, police say, began to lead Reichler to his home to call police.

"At this point, it appears the suspect, Reichler, pulled his own handgun and fired at least one shot towards Mr. Tapia," said Chief Troy Williams, Portage Police Department.

The bullet hit Tapia in the chest, and two of his kids and his wife rushed to his side.

"He was just saying, 'They shot me! They shot me!' And she's screaming, calling the ambulance, the cops," Priscilla Tapia said.

Police say Tapia had managed to return fire, hitting Reichler in both arms. Police later arrested Reichler at a hospital 20 miles away, along with alleged accomplice Sipe.

Izynski was picked up not far from the shooting scene.

The alleged gunman, Reichler, has been charged with murder. The other two suspects are being held on charges related to the car break-ins. Police say they have recovered the murder weapon, which was left at the shooting scene.