Gary firefighter takes, then returns, photographer’s camera while at Clay funeral
Post-Tribune staff report June 13, 2013 4:48PM
Jerry Lynch, a self-taught photographer and Gary firefighter, is photographed at his home in Merrillville, Ind. Thursday January 3, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 16, 2013 6:13AM
GARY — While mourners paid tribute to former Mayor Rudy Clay at his funeral Wednesday, someone slipped out of the Genesis Center with a digital camera and telescopic lens belonging to a newspaper photographer.
The equipment was returned later that afternoon, and the Times photographer agreed not to pursue criminal charges, police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said.
But Gary Fire Engineer Jerome Lynch may face disciplinary action from the department. Lynch, whose duties include taking pictures at fire scenes and special events, has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is investigated.
City spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington said the city would not comment on a pending personnel matter, but other sources confirmed that Lynch was sent home because of the incident.
Lynch, who describes himself as CEO of Lynchmob, a photography company, told co-workers he took the camera by mistake, because it looks like his.
However, when Lake County security guard Michael Miller saw a firefighter in his dress uniform walking quickly through the Lake Superior Court building, he noted the man carried two cameras and strange behavior, the police report states. Miller had just learned of the theft and tried to stop the firefighter, who left through another door and fled the area.
Several people recognized Lynch and began calling him on his cell phone. He eventually returned to the Genesis Center with the camera, which was not damaged, King said.
The Times photographer, Jonathan Miano, 35, had left his black digital Canon camera and white 70-200mm lens in a corner of the Indiana Room while he used other equipment to record events. Ten minutes later, the camera and lens were gone.
Patrolman Shanesha Emmons took a report from Miano while other officers were alerted to look for the missing gear.