Portage man shot to death outside home
By Carrie Napoleon, John Robbins And Lori Caldwell For the Post-Tribune November 2, 2012 9:35AM
Diana Blackmer looks toward the home of her neighbor, Carl Griffith, Sr., in Portage Friday Nov. 2, 2012. Griffith was gunned down outside his home Thursday evening and died of his wounds shortly thereafter. "He's the last person I would ever think something like this would happen to", Blackmer said. "My son grew up with his sons." | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 4, 2012 6:09AM
PORTAGE — A Portage man was shot and killed Thursday night outside his home in the 2700 block of Locust Street.
Carl Griffith Sr., 72, was shot multiple times., according to Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris.
Griffith was transported to Porter Regional Hospital Portage Campus. He was pronounced dead in the hospital emergency room at 8:35 p.m.
Friday morning, down the street on the corner of Hickory and Concord police crime scene tape lay strewn around the site where witnesses described seeing what appeared to be a newer black Honda Accord with Illinois license plates parked for up to three hours prior to the shooting. They believe the shooter and driver waited there until the victim returned home from work.
Carl Griffith II, son of the victim, said his father had just returned home from work Thursday night. He heard his father begin to open the door, then delayed entering the house, apparently to take a cell phone call. While he stayed by the steps in the front yard to take the call, five shots were fired at Griffith Sr., three shots hitting him.
Shell casings were found in the yard, according to Griffith II, which he believes were fired from an AK 47.
Griffith II says he heard the shots, opened the door, saw his father on the ground, then went back into the house to call 911. He said police responded very quickly and immediately began efforts to resuscitate but his father was already dead.
Griffith Sr. had a weapon on him, according to the son, and worked as a tow truck driver for Affordable Towing, of Gary. Affordable Towing performs impound work for the Gary Police Department. Prior to working for Affordable Towing, Griffith Sr. had worked as a truck driver retiring after 30 years.
Earlier Thursday, Griffith Sr. told Gary police he and another Affordable Towing employee were shot at when they went to Glen Park to pick up a scrap car.
He said a woman wanted to sell her silver Lexus and gave an address in the 3300 block of Kentucky Street. She said she would have the title available when they arrived, Gary police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said. Griffith and the other driver arrived about noon and saw the car parked in a driveway. As they sat parked on the street waiting for the owner to emerge, they saw a man walking toward them with a gun. He fired once at the tow truck, but the gun jammed and the assailant ran from the scene. Griffith and his co-worker left the area and notified police.
The shooter was described as a black man between 20 and 30 years of age. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants, King said.
Sgt. Keith Hughes, public information officer for the Portage Police Department, said police were called to the scene at 8:05 p.m. regarding the shooting. When officers arrived they found Griffith had been shot multiple times.
“At this time detectives have been working the case for 13 hours interviewing numerous witnesses and family members,” Hughes said Friday morning.
He said it is unknown if any of the people being interviewed are considered persons of interest. It is also unknown if the shooting was intentional or random. Hughes said he expects more information to be available as the day progresses.
Griffith Sr.’s neighbor Cassie Larimore heard four or five shots, initially thinking they were fireworks, then realizing they probably were not. “I looked out the window and saw a man running toward the west,” she said.
Larimore went onto her porch then heard the deceased’s son screaming, “Dad, dad, dad.”
“The shots sounded like they were right outside my bedroom window,” said Larimore.
“Every time I saw Carl, (while) walking my dogs, he was very nice. Things don’t happen like that around here,” said Larimore.
Neighbor Linda Colvin heard five shots. “I thought it was right out my window. I was scared to look out at first because I thought if he saw me looking out my window he would shoot me,” she said.