Gunman scares couple at Merrillville park, then robs nearby bank
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org August 13, 2012 5:54PM
Updated: September 15, 2012 6:16AM
Merrillville police are pursuing a masked man who carjacked a Schererville couple at gunpoint then robbed a nearby bank on Saturday afternoon.
Around 4 p.m., Katie Grevenstuk, 22, and John Skowronski, 23, were talking in their cars at Independence Park, 3300 W. 73rd Ave., when a man wearing a ski mask approached them and asked for a ride.
“I said, ‘No, I’m not taking you anywhere,’ ” Grevenstuk said. “But he kept asking. I was not giving in, then he pulled out a gun in a black garbage bag that was in his pants.”
Grevenstuk said the man was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, a mask with his eyes and mouth showing, winter gloves and sweatpants. She said the man, who was black, was about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing about 200 pounds. She said he talked out of the side of his mouth.
Grevenstuk thought the gun was fake, but Skowronski got worried when he saw the clip on the gun. Skowronski said he didn’t want any problems and gave him the keys to his silver Ford Escort.
“He said that we’d get the car and my phone back if we met him at Strack’s in 20 minutes,” Grevenstuk said. “I thought he had already done something wrong. It seemed like he was robbing us in a nice way.”
The couple contacted police and were told the man had left the car in the parking lot of Strack & Van Til, 7201 Taft St., after he robbed a First Midwest Bank branch inside the store. He bailed out of the car after red dye packs inside the money exploded. Grevenstuk said that the inside of the car has a couple of dye stains and there was cash that the man dropped as he was running to the nearby Admiral gas station. The man drove a car from the gas station north into the Glen Park neighborhood of Gary, where it was recovered Saturday night.
Grevenstuk said she and Skowronski were shown a photo lineup by police, but none of the photos matched the suspect. Grevenstuk said the experience was definitely disconcerting.
“If I were in different mood, I probably would have been more scared than angry,” she said. “I don’t think he would have harmed us. But John said, with everything that’s been happening lately, I don’t want to mess with that. He thought that the fact that I was snapping back at the guy, that he may do something.”
Merrillville police didn’t return calls for information.