An employee at the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) was
“roughed up” but otherwise unharmed after being taken hostage on Wednesday
by a detainee armed with a homemade knife, Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary
Harper—who administers the juvenile justice system in Porter County,
including JDC—told the Chesterton Tribune today that the incident
occurred around 6 a.m., after the detention officer had returned the boy to
his room following a shower. The boy told the officer that he had forgotten
his deodorant in the shower room and when the officer fetched it and then
opened the door to the boy’s room, the boy “was there waiting for him” with
a comb filed to “a very sharp point,” Harper said.
The boy then threatened—several times—to kill the officer unless he were
given a vehicle and directions to Gary, Harper said, and as the boy with the
officer in tow moved from area to area inside the facility he “threw the
employee around and banged him against walls.”
Harper noted that there was never any danger of the boy’s escaping the
facility but that staff in the control center monitoring the incident from
six different surveillance cameras did unlock various areas inside as he
moved from place to place.
Meanwhile, both the Valparaiso Police Department and Porter County Sheriff’s
Police were dispatched to JDC, officers quickly arrived at the scene, and
they persuaded the boy to surrender after preparing to deploy Tasers and a
K-9 unit, Harper said.
The other detainees at JDC were still in their rooms during the incident.
The officer sustained “scratches, bruises, scrapes, and knots to the front
and back of his head” but was not seriously injured, Harper said.
Harper—who responded to the scene herself and spent much of Wednesday
morning reviewing the surveillance tapes—praised the officer and the
officer’s supervisor for their handing of the incident in such a way as to
“avoid serious injury to the youth and the officer.”
Harper and staff are reviewing JDC policy with a view to preventing similar
incidents in the future.
The boy remains in custody at JDC and is “under constant observation,”