Chesterton Tribune

19 counts filed against BB gun suspect: 'Destruction makes me feel better'

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A total of 19 charges have been filed against a Porter Township man who has admitted firing a BB gun at parked and moving vehicles, the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

Dennis R. Ditterline Jr., 38, of 453 Meadowwood Drive, has been charged with six counts of criminal recklessness, a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three years; 12 counts of criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to a year in jail; and one count of resisting law enforcement, also a Class A misdemeanor.

Ditterline was taken into custody at 7:19 p.m. Wednesday—in the area of C.R. 100S and South County Line Road in Porter Township—after investigators maintaining surveillance on him observed Ditterline shoot at passing vehicles out the window of his own vehicle, police said.

The charge of resisting law enforcement was filed against Ditterline after police said that he “refused to comply (with) numerous verbal demands to exit his vehicle” after being stopped by investigators, “refused to place his vehicle in park,” and “pulled away from officers two times,” police said.

Between February and May 18 the Porter County Sheriff’s Police received “approximately 50 reports” of damage to vehicles caused by a BB gun along the corridors of C.R. 500W from U.S. Highway 30 to Ind. 2 and C.R. 100S from Ind. 2 to the Porter/Lake County Line, police said. “A substantial number of the complaints listed the suspect vehicle as a dark-colored SUV with gold trim.”

Ditterline became a suspect on May 9 when an occupied vehicle parked in the Valparaiso Wal-Mart parking lot was damaged by BB gun fire and the victim was able to provide the VPD with a partial description of the suspect and a description of the suspect’s vehicle as a dark-colored SUV, police said.

Footage from a Wal-Mart security camera showed the suspect paying for merchandise inside the store—charging it to his credit card—just prior to the shooting, police said, and from that transaction Det. Sgt. Eric Jones of the PCSP was able to obtain the suspect’s name as well as vehicle ownership.

The VPD, the PCSP, the Porter County Drug Task Force, and the Merrillville Police Department then launched a surveillance operation of the suspect’s home and vehicle in Porter Township, and when Ditterline left his residence on Thursday evening he was followed by investigators and later seen shooting a BB gun “out his vehicle window” at other vehicles, police said.

After being taken into custody, Jones stated in his probable cause affidavit, “Ditterline admitted to shooting cars a couple of times per week in the county,” to shooting 10 to 12 cars in Valparaiso on the city’s south side and near the hospital, and to shooting the vehicle in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

“Ditterline advised that he shot at cars whenever he ‘felt like it,’” Jones further stated. “Ditterline estimated that he shot at cars on approximately 50 different occasions. Ditterline advised that he always shot at cars from his black colored Ford Expedition. When asked why he shot so many cars, Ditterline stated ‘Destruction makes me feel better.’”

 

Posted 5/23/2011