Two juveniles arrested in connection with a shooting at U.S. Steel Yard after West Side Leadership Academy’s Sunday evening graduation could be charged as adults.

Lake County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Myrna Maldonado said in an email Monday that the two boys — ages 16 and 17 — are both in the Lake County Juvenile Center with pending criminal recklessness and dangerous possession of a firearm charges. Prosecutors are “in the process of reviewing the evidence to determine if one or both of the juveniles will be charged as adults,” she said.

Charges against the third suspect — a 20-year-old Hammond man — have yet to be filed as Gary police continue to interview witnesses and review video footage, Gary Police spokesman Commander Jack Hamady said Monday in an email. The department’s forensics team is also comparing handgun cartridges to the ones recovered from the southeast side of the Steel Yard, Hamady said.

Meanwhile, the condition of the 19-year-old man who got shot in the chest during the shooting was unclear Monday. Linda Hadley, director of marketing and communication for Methodist Hospitals, said via text Monday there were “no shooting victims at the hospital at this time” and that there were no inpatient admissions related to the shooting.

A second person — a woman, 19 — was shot in the ankle during the shooting that happened just outside U.S. Steel Yard several yards away from the stadium’s entrance on the southeast side, Gary Police spokesman Cmdr. Jack Hamady said Sunday night. A third person sustained injuries in the incident and was treated at the scene by medics, according to Gary Police spokesperson Lt. Dawn Westerfield.

Patrick A. Salvi, owner and CEO of the Gary SouthShore RailCats, in a statement Monday called the events at the conclusion of the Westside graduation “reprehensible.”

“It is extremely unfortunate, and we hope for a quick recovery for everyone involved,” Salvi said. “In the team’s 20-year history in Gary, there have been no shooting incidents during the RailCats games, which are mostly played in the evening.

“RailCats fans should continue to feel safe and secure attending our games, as we continue to prioritize our fans, employees and stakeholders’ safety. We pride ourselves on providing (a) safe game day experience just as we have for the past 20 years and will continue to update our safety plan with our security team.”

Nearly 200 students were scheduled to graduate during the ceremony, which started at 4 p.m. Graduates and guests were exiting the stadium when shots erupted outside of the stadium.

Hamady said Sunday he received a call from Gary Community School Corporation’s head of security, Cliff Caldwell, asking for assistance because a fight had broken out as people were leaving the graduation ceremonies around 5:32 p.m., though eyewitness accounts indicated a fight broke out in the stands during the earlier festivities. The fight was broken up by security, and it’s unclear if it was connected to the shooting after the ceremony.

Caldwell had a security team as well as Lake County Police officers working the event, Hamady said.

As Gary officers arrived, they found the male victim in the middle of Fifth Avenue with a gunshot to the chest, Hamady said. The 19-year-old man was taken to Methodist Hospital’s Northlake campus, Hamady said. At 6:14 p.m., police took one person with a handgun into custody.

Hamady said four detectives were on scene; preliminary reports indicate there were no weapons in the stadium during the ceremony and that the suspects parked their cars — and their guns — across the street in the Calumet Township Assessor’s parking lot. They then left the stadium and came back with the weapons, he said.

Hamady said police were talking with the shooting victims as well as four other witnesses Sunday night. A motive has yet to be established, he said.

Gary Community School Corporation Manager Paige McNulty in a statement expressed dismay over the shooting Sunday night.

“A day that was meant for celebration has now been marked by tragedy through senseless acts of gun violence,” McNulty said. “During the entire graduation, our students conducted themselves in an excellent manner. Meanwhile, the disruptive actions of a few overshadowed their special moment.

“Thankfully, the offenders have been apprehended, but it doesn’t change the hurt and disappointment our students, families and school community are now feeling. Our prayers are with those injured, and we continue to extend our congratulations to WSLA graduates. They deserve it.”

GCSC on Monday referred all questions about the shooting and its security protocols to the Gary Police Department.

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince is committed to holding to account those responsible for the shooting.

“It’s infuriating to me to hear of violence and injuries on a special night for our young people and their families. I pray for a full and speedy recovery for anyone who was injured,” Prince said. “At this point, this is an ongoing investigation, but I assure everyone our Gary Police Department and law enforcement partners will use all available resources to get to the bottom of this incident.

“We will not cede our community to people who jeopardize our residents through their senseless, violent means.”

Freelance reporter Carrie Napoleon contributed to this report.



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