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Woman Found Dead in Casino Parking Garage

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Police in Gary and Griffith are investigating the shooting death of a 76-year-old St. John woman found inside a vehicle, police say, in a parking garage at Majestic Star Casino in Gary. The Lake County Coroners office says Mary Austgen was pronounced dead at the scene in parking garage 2D, 1 Buffington Harbor, shortly after 4-o'clock this morning, from a single gunshot wound to her torso, and her death has been ruled a homicide. Gary Police Public Information Officer Corporal Gabrielle King says at about 4:30 Thursday afternoon, family members of the victim reported her missing to the Griffith Police Department.  No information was available from Griffith Police at this hour. Mary Austgen is listed as owner of a business in Griffith, but we've not been able to get that confirmed.
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Fatal Shooting at Gary Casino Parking Garage

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The Lake County Coroners office says a 76-year-old St. John woman suffered a fatal gunshot wound this morning in a parking garage at Majestic Star Casino in Gary. Authorities say Mary Austgen was pronounced dead at the scene in parking garage 2D, 1 Buffington Harbor, shortly after 4 am from a single gunshot wound to the lower left torso, and her death has been ruled a homicide. Investigating agencies also include Gary and Griffith Police Departments and the Lake County Crime Lab, according to officials this morning.
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Teen Critically Hurt in Merrillville Shooting

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Police in Merrillville say a 14-year-old juvenile who suffered a gunshot wound to the head while in the living room of his family's home was airlifted to an Illinois hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police say they responded to the 75-hundred block of Marshall Street shortly after 8:30 Wednesday night in reference to gunshots heard in the area. There is no suspect information available at this time. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ray Smith of the Merrillville Police Department at 219-769-3531.
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15 Names to be Read in Hobart Ceremony

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Today (Fri Mar 29)  is the final Friday of the month, the day of the Hobart Marine Corps League “Howlin' Mad Detachment Number 93” Doughboy ceremony – where the names of fallen soldiers for the month are read out loud – a total of 15 names will be read tonight. Last month, for the first time in three-and-a-half-years, there were no names to read. The public as always is invited to the service which starts at 5pm at the Hobart Doughboy statue, at 7th and Main.   Doughboy was a term used to describe U-S infantrymen of the American Expeditionary Force during World War One.
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Cal College to Sponsor Gary Charter School

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On July first Calumet College of St. Joseph out of Whiting becomes the new sponsor of Charter School of the Dunes in Gary. The announcement comes just three months before Ball State's sponsorship ends. Earlier this year, Ball State announced its sponsorship of several charter schools, including two in Gary, Charter School of the Dunes and LEAD College Preparatory , would end June 30th based on a review of academic performance and other criteria.
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Plea Agreement in Fatal Shooting

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Sentencing was set for April 24 for a 19-year-old Merrillville man who has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the shooting death of a 39-year-old Gary man. Officials say 39-year-old Bryan McCoy suffered a fatal gunshot wound inside his home on East 48th Avenue in April 2011. Police allege the suspect, Angel Garcia, who was 17 at the time, shot the victim during an argument that turned physical. Garcia faces eight years in prison as part of the plea agreement. Charges of murder and murder in the perpetration of a robbery will be dismissed as part of the agreement if accepted.
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Illinois State Trooper Killed in Crash

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Officials say a 28-year-old Illinois State Trooper was killed last night when his police car was apparently struck by a semi on the Tri-State Tollway in Northbrook. Illinois State Police say James Sauter was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash was still under investigation.
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Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Demand Action!

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Mayors across the nation on Thursday held a National Day to Demand Action press conference, to demand action to stop gun violence in our communities. In Gary, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was joined by Police Chief Wade Ingram, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, as well as leaders of the faith community, and the mother of 18-year-old Charles Wood and 19-year-old Shaqwone Ham, both of Gary, two teenagers killed by gun violence on Sunday, March 17th. Prosecutor Bernard Carter says parents need to start taking for responsibility for their children, and learn how what your children are doing, and who they associate with.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson says today is just the beginning, calling for background checks, a ban on assault weapons, regulating the use of guns, while still keeping Second Amendment rights in tact and implored concerned residents to stand up and say, “We've had enough”, and to sign the “Call to Action” petition.
For a link to the petition to demand action from Congress, click http://www.demandaction.org.
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Governor Pence to Spend Dyngus Day in South Bend

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Governor Mike Pence will be spending Monday in St. Joseph County, for Dyngus Day. According to his office, Governor Pence will attend a Dyngus Day lunch at the St. Joesph County GOP Headquarters in South Bend, at 12:30pm EDT. The Governor is scheduled to join South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at M-R Falcons at 3pm EDT, and then the pair will travel to Z-B Falcons for an engagement at 3:45pm EDT.
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Schererville PD Hosting Crime Watch Meeting in April

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The subject of firearms and firearms safety will be addressed the second week of April at the Schererville Town Hall. Schererville Police invite the public to attend their first quarter “Crime Watch Meeting” of 2013, on April 11th, at 7pm.
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Overturned Semi in Median Backing Up I-65

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Drivers southbound on I-65 should plan to exit the interstate before the State Road 2 Lowell exit.  According to INDOT, an overturned semi in the median ditch about four miles south of the Lowell exit at mile marker 236, is causing a major backup both directions.  At last report the left lane and left shoulder southbound I-65 was blocked with the shoulder to be closed until around 9 p.m. tonight.  Traffic heading northbound on I-65 was backing up to past State Road 10.
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Authorities Investigating Fatal Crash in Center Twp

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One person is dead, another seriously injured after a passenger vehicle collided with a garbage truck early this afternoon in Center Township. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports a vehicle, driven a 68 year old woman was heading east on County Road 300 North, toward Johnson Road, and failed to stop at the stop sign at the intersection, hitting a northbound garbage truck. A 70 year old man, a passenger in the vehicle that failed to stop, was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 68 year old female driver was airlifted to South Bend Memorial Hospital for her injuries. The Sheriff's Office reports none of the three-occupants of the garbage truck were injured, and the crash remains under investigation. The names of those in the passenger vehicle are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
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Burglary at Dyer Home Happens with the Family There

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Police in Dyer today report a residence was allegedly burglarized while the homeowners were inside. Dyer Police report the incident occurred early this morning, between 4 and 5am, in the 26-hundred block of Tulip Tree Lane. Authorities say the alleged thief reportedly went through an unlocked door and took a purse and electronics. The incident remains under investigation.
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McCowan Sentenced to 60 Years and Plans to Appeal

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About 40 people were waiting outside the courtroom, and when the doors open this afternoon, they learned 20 year old Dustin McCowan was sentenced to 60 years in prison for murdering former girlfriend, 19 year old Amanda Bach, in September 2011. The parents of deceased read their witness statements, asking for the maximum sentence for McCowan. After sentencing, Sandra Bach, Amanda's mother, gave a final public statement, saying she has no sympathy for McCowan or his family, and their loss is no where near as great as ours. Defense Attorney's for McCowan say their client will file an appeal after 30 days through a public defender.
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Power Outage in Porter County Effecting Some REMC Members

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Kankakee Valley REMC is making necessary repairs to a power pole broken on the northeast corner of HWY 2 and 100 South in Porter County.  According to Amanda Steeb, Communications Director for the utility, Approximately 2,000 members living in or around this area are currently experiencing an outage as REMC's crews are on the scene making the necessary repairs.  Kankakee Valley REMC says it appreciates it's members patience as the utility works quickly and safely to restore power.
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US 30 in Dyer Blocked by Train

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US 30 in stopped in Dyer not far from the hospital. Both directions are not moving.  There is a train blocking the highway. We have reports of an issue with the train, but it's not known what that might mean at this time.
Also, in Porter County, tipster tells us the lights are out at County Road 250 West, a couple miles west of Valparaiso.  No word why at this time.
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Yacht Club Demolition Soon

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The Portage Redevelopment Commission has awarded the contract for demolition of the Portage Yacht Club, and tear down could begin in less than a month. The decades-old building, now owned by the city, is just north of Interstate 94 off State Road 149. It's been said renting it out wouldn't bring in enough to pay for needed renovations. It used to be a clubhouse for employees of the former Midwest Steel.
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Yellowstone Road Closure Apr 1

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In Valparaiso, a stretch of Yellowstone Road is scheduled to be closed for most of April, starting this Monday, for storm and sanitary sewer work, and water main construction. The restriction will be in effect 24-hours a day between Avondale Avenue and the north George Street entrance.
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No Injuries in Merrillville House Fire

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No injuries were reported in a house fire in Merrillville last night that is reportedly believed to have started by a ten-year-old child playing with matches. Firefighters were called out to the 91-hundred block of Wright Street around 9 pm. The fire was in a second-floor closet and was extinguished in about a half-hour.
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Investigation Into Hammond Teacher Continues

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In a joint Hammond Police Department and Homeland Security Investigation, a Morton High School math teacher has been accused in federal court of asking underage female students to text sexually explicit pictures of themselves to him by cellphone. Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller says the investigation continues, and says the department thinks there may be more people who have information on this case. Chief Miller says anyone with information on the case is asked to call Hammond Detective Sgt. Mark Biller at 219-852-2966. Chief Miller says the teacher identified as Jon Erik Lilly was taken into custody this week. Reports say investigation began when the mother of a 17-year-old girl suspected her daughter was sexually active with the man, who told officials he had been a teacher at Morton until very recently. Court documents also say he denied having sexual contact with the girl. A hearing was set for Friday.
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