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Charges filed against Liberty Township man accused of pointing gun at PCSP officer

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Formal charges have been filed against the man who the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said pointed a handgun at an officer on Monday while fleeing the scene of a motorcycle crash, prompting the officer to discharge his own service weapon.

Shawn Michael Pizzuto, 31, of 23 Covington Drive in Liberty Township, has been charged with intimidation, pointing a firearm, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, and criminal recklessness.

He was taken into custody at his residence in the Fox Chase Farms subdivision early Monday morning.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by the PCSP, at 1:16 a.m. the PCSP officer was on patrol in the area of U.S. Highway 6 and C.R. 200W when he observed a motorcyclist on an orange sport-style motorcycle traveling eastbound on U.S. 6 at 81 miles per hour. The officer initiated a pursuit, following the motorcyclist northbound on Meridian Road, westbound on C.R. 1050N, then crossing Ind. 149 into the City of Portage on Lenburg Road, where the motorcyclist failed to negotiate a curve and crashed into a street sign on the south side of the road, police said.

At this point the motorcyclist “stood up and began running north toward a wooded area,” police said. “(The officer) observed the offender reach into his waistband and begin to draw what he believed to be a black semi-automatic pistol. The offender then produced the firearm from his waistband and began to raise it behind him in the direction of (the officer), while continuing to flee toward the wooded area.”

“Fearing for his life, and the safety of (a Burns Harbor Police officer) who had arrived at the scene, “(the officer) drew his department-issued firearm and discharged his weapon in an attempt to cease the immediate threat to his life,” police said.

The motorcyclist, however, succeeded in evading apprehension. A K-9 unit responding to the scene later found a black Springfield XDS semi-automatic pistol abandoned in the wooded area, police said.

In the course of their investigation, officers contacted the orange motorcycle’s registered owner, who advised that he had sold it to another man. That other man advised that, six months ago, he had sold it in turn to an ironworker at ArcelorMittal identified as “Shawn,” police said.

In the meantime, a Valparaiso Police officer investigating the report of gunshots fired near the Eagle Ridge subdivision in Liberty Township just prior to the motorcycle pursuit--followed “by the distinct sound of a sport-style motorcycle engine’s accelerating at a high rate of speed”--had occasion to make contact with the occupants of a black Dodge Charger, police said.

Further investigation determined that the Charger’s occupants, two women, are acquaintances of Shawn Pizzuto and had actually been following him on his motorcycle just prior to the initiation of the officer’s pursuit, police said. The driver of the Charger also advised that, while in the area of U.S. 6 and C.R. 200W, she “observed Shawn pull a firearm from his person and fire several rounds recklessly in the air while driving his orange motorcycle,” police said.

Then, in reviewing Pizzuto’s Facebook page, an investigator observed “a picture matching the wrecked orange motorcycle” as well as “a photo of a black Springfield XDS semi-automatic pistol,” police said.

Officers then attempted to make contact with Pizzuto at his registered address, got no answer there, but remained on the scene until, at 5:30 a.m., a subject “matching the descriptors of Shawn Pizzuto” was dropped off at the home by an SUV, police said. Pizzuto entered the residence and, after an ERT responded to the address and phone contact was made with him, he surrendered himself without incident, police said.

A search warrant was subsequently obtained and served at the residence, where investigators found “the original gun box for the Springfield XDS” and “wet dirty clothing matching the description of clothes worn by the offender in the pursuit,” police said.

Pizzuto was transported for questioning to the PCSP department and later charged.

The Indiana State Police, tasked with investigating the officer-involved shooting, said on Monday that it should complete the investigation this week and will then forward its report to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review.

 

Posted 5/16/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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