Updated: March 15, 2014 6:21AM
GARY — Gunshot victims shouted to police, “Help us! He’s reloading!” as officers attempted to enter the Safe and Sound Senior Citizen Social Club where four men were wounded late Wednesday night, police said.
But the front door to the club, at 2220 Broadway in Midtown, was locked and police were desperate to get inside the building.
A reserve officer used his shotgun to shatter a lock on the door, allowing officers inside the club. The suspect, a 23-year-old Chicago man, was found hiding in a bathroom at the rear of the club and arrested.
One of the club members may have shot the suspect during the chaotic few minutes before police arrived, but investigators declined to say if it was one of the wounded men who returned fire.
The suspect was treated and released from the hospital and is in custody while Detectives Cpl. Edward Gonzalez and James Bond piece together the night’s events. The detectives expect to present charges to the Lake County prosecutor while the suspect is still in custody.
Because of the number of people still to be interviewed about the shooting, Bond and Gonzalez declined to speculate on a motive for the shooting or provide additional details about the incident.
“To maintain the integrity of the investigation, we are not releasing any information at this time,” Bond said.
A police supervisor praised the response by Gary officers who arrived quickly after receiving the initial 911 calls from members inside the club, executed safe tactical practices and apprehended the suspect without additional injuries to occupants or officers.
The wounded victims, none of whom suffered life-threatening injuries, according to police, are a 65-year old of Gary, who was shot in both feet and right shin; a 76-year-old of Gary, struck in the chest and buttocks; a 43-year-old of East Chicago, shot in the left wrist and upper leg, and a 45-year-old of Chicago, shot in the right arm and buttocks, the police report states.
The building that houses Safe and Sound was the former home of the Sin City Desciples motorcycle club. The social clubs operating in Midtown are often settings for gambling and other vices. Police occasionally raid clubs when they receive reports of increased activity, loitering and other problems.
Safe and Sound was raided by Indiana State Excise police in October 2011 for serving alcohol without a license. In that raid, 13 people ranging in age from 50 to 87 years old who were inside the club were charged.
The owner of the club at the time was charged with promoting professional gambling and serving alcohol without a permit. The other dozen people were charged with visiting a common nuisance.
Police seized a craps table, beer and liquor during that 2011 raid.