posttrib
SOGGY 
Weather Updates

Man, 26, charged with murder in killing of Gary police officer

Carl Blount

Carl Blount

storyidforme: 68890662
tmspicid: 24644470
fileheaderid: 12319787

Gary mayor statement

“I am pleased that the suspect has been charged, and I hope this brings a certain amount of relief to the family and the men and women of the Gary Police Department,” said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in a press release. “However, we are still mourning the loss of one of our own and expect that Blount and anyone else involved be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Related Documents

 

Blount probable cause affidavit
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: August 26, 2014 6:10AM



Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield’s fiancee minced no words when it came to the fate of his alleged killer: She wants him to get the death penalty.

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and Prosecutor Bernard Carter on Thursday announced that Carl Le’Ellis Blount Jr. had been charged with murder in the Fourth of July weekend shooting death of the 19-year Gary police officer. Blount, 26, of Gary, faces one charge of murder, although police are still looking for the gun.

“Jeff is no longer here. We can’t see him or talk to him or touch him,” Denise Sheaks-Cather told the Post-Tribune. “Why should his (Blount’s) family be able to visit him and talk to him? Why are they any different?”

Westerfield was found dead in his squad car early on the morning of July 6, his 47th birthday. According to a probable cause affidavit and the sheriff, Blount waited until Westerfield’s attention was “diverted” before he shot the officer at “very close range” with a Walther .40-caliber handgun, stolen almost a year ago from a truck in Indianapolis.

“(It’s) just senseless, senseless murder of a police officer,” Buncich said during a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce the charge.

Blount was taken into custody the day Westerfield was killed but not charged until Thursday. Police were able to hold him on warrants out of Porter County, Buncich said. In the Portage warrants he listed a Portage address. In charging documents in Lake County, he lists 2659 Jackson St., Gary, as his address.

Police believe Blount killed the 19-year veteran officer at 26th Avenue and Van Buren Place in Gary.

Blount and his girlfriend, Jennifer Guzman, had been at Voodoo Club in Gary the night of Saturday, July 5. On their way home, a friend of Guzman’s began accusing Blount of having an affair with another woman, court records say.

While in the car, Blount lifted his shirt and showed them he had a gun. The couple began arguing and when they got out of the car, they started struggling over the gun, according to the probable cause affidavit. At some point, Guzman told police, she got control of the gun and “it just went off.”

Blount picked up the gun and fled on foot, the affidavit says.

Westerfield was one of the officers who arrived to the shooting, and he subsequently went looking for Blount.

At 4:26 a.m., Westerfield made his last communication with dispatch and asked for a description of Blount.

According to the narrative laid out in Wednesday’s court filing, police were able to use a cellphone picture from Blount’s phone to identify the gun and its serial number. They traced the gun back to Indianapolis and found that an Indianapolis man bought it in January 2013 and reported it stolen on Sept. 25.

Blount’s brother, Dontae Blount, told authorities during an interview Tuesday that he was on the phone with Carl Blount just before the shooting, according to the affidavit. He told police that Carl Blount told him he was ending the call because there was a Gary police officer with a spotlight on and that he would be home soon.

Moments later, Dontae Blount told police, he heard a rapid succession of gunshots. He grabbed his own gun, went outside and saw Carl Blount running at full speed toward the house.

Dontae told authorities that Carl had “an emotional outburst” and told him he had shot a police officer when his attention was diverted.

Buncich said Dontae’s statements proved crucial to the case.

“His half-brother was the one to give us enough to charge,” he said.

Dontae is also being held on other warrants. He is not charged in connection to Westerfield’s homicide, although Buncich said police are still investigating the case.

Amid tight security, Blount, 25, appeared in court Thursday morning before Lake Superior Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan on a petition to revoke probation for criminal recklessness. He was sentenced May 13, 2013, to 24 months — half of the sentence was suspended and ordered served on probation. He is represented by Robert Varga of the Lake County public defender’s office.

Blount is set to appear Friday morning before Lake Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas for an initial appearance. He also has a hearing before Cappas on Sept. 24 on the probation revocation case, which stems from him being charged in Porter County while on probation in Lake County.

Sheaks-Cather, Westerfield’s fiancee, vowed to follow Blount’s case.

“I will be at every court hearing,” she said.

Sheaks-Cather, who is close friends with other police wives, said she worries about Gary officers because their work conditions have not changed since Westerfield was killed.

“I don’t want to see another family go through this. The city says things are better, but they’re not,” she said.

Allie Westerfield, the slain officer’s 20-year-old daughter, said Thursday that knowing her dad died trying to protect the residents of Gary made her “extremely proud to be his daughter.” She thanked all the local law enforcement for working to find her father’s killer.

“We are standing as strong as we can,” she said of her family in the wake of his death. “We miss our dad.”

Allie Westerfield said the family plans on attending Gary’s Night Against Violence in early August, which will be held in Westerfield’s memory this year.

Blount, who has not confessed to the crime, faces 45 to 65 years in prison on the charge. Buncich said Thursday that the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office is still determining whether to seek the death penalty.

Allie Westerfield said she didn’t have an opinion on what sentence Blount should serve if convicted.

Blount has a 2013 conviction for criminal recklessness, a Class D felony. He was sentenced May 13, 2013, to 24 months — 12 months in Lake County Jail and 12 months suspended and served on probation. He had 334 days in custody at his sentencing hearing.

He was held on a Porter County warrant from a domestic incident in April where he was accused of criminal confinement, strangulation and other charges in Chesterton. Earlier this month, he was charged with forgery, also in Porter County.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department is still offering a reward of $10,000 for anyone who can provide more information to help bring a conviction, and the ATF has thrown in another $10,000, Buncich said. People with information can call (800) 750-2746.

The Major Crimes Task Force and Indiana State Police also assisted. Agents from several federal departments, including the ATF, FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service also offered their help. Buncich praised the work of all the departments, saying almost every law enforcement agency in Lake County helped out in some way.

“The work that went into this was unbelievable,” he said.

Contributing: Ruth Ann Krause and Post-Tribune staff



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.