A Dunelander used a
handgun stolen from an unlocked vehicle in Chesterton last week to fatally
shoot a Portage resident, after being confronted in the act of stealing from
the resident’s car, Portage Police said.
The victim was
identified as Alex Tapia, 36, shot early Friday morning in front of his home
in the 6000 block of Mill Run Ave.
The man accused of
pulling the trigger, Thomas Elliot Reichler, 18, of 405 Strongbow Trail in
Porter, was formally charged with murder Friday. Reichler was charged as
well with attempted theft and possession of stolen property.
Dunelanders who police said were Reichler’s confederates in the vehicle
entry were charged with attempted theft: Korey Brandon Izynski, 19, of 637
Wood St. in Porter; and Nathaniel Todd Sipe, 19, of 677 E. U.S. Highway 6 in
Izynski was also
charged with the actual theft of the handgun itself, on Tuesday, Dec. 9,
from a vehicle parked on North Calumet Road in Chesterton; and with
possession of stolen property.
According to the
probable cause affidavit filed by the Portage Police Department, at 5:30
a.m. Tapia heard his dog bark, alerting him to three male subjects entering
a car parked in his driveway. Tapia confronted them and yelled “Freeze,”
police said, prompting two of them--later identified as Izynski and Sipe--to
flee on foot. But Reichler was still “inside the car” and Tapia “was able to
gain control” of him, police said.
Tapia was leading
Reichler to his porch, pending the arrival of officers, when “a scuffle
ensued,” during which Reichler fired one round from a Ruger 9mm LC9,
striking Tapia in the torso, police said. Tapia, who was himself armed,
returned fire, firing at least twice and hitting Reichler above his left
wrist and in his right arm, police said.
the Ruger at the scene and fled down the street to where Izynski had parked
his vehicle and together the two waited while EMS personnel treated Tapia,
police said. Izynski then drove Reichler to Franciscan St. Anthony Health in
Michigan City, where Reichler was treated for his wounds, police said.
Recovered from the
scene was the Ruger, which a 23-year-old Chesterton man had reported stolen
three days earlier, along with his wallet, from an unlocked vehicle parked
in the 600 block of North Calumet Road. The Chesterton Tribune
reported that theft in Thursday’s edition.
determined, after taking the suspects into custody, that Izynski was the one
who stole the Ruger on Dec. 9 but that he later traded it to Reicher for a
FN Herstal semi-automatic pistol which Reichler had stolen only two hours
before the shooting, from a vehicle parked in the 100 block of Taylor Street
in Chesterton, police said.
“Prior to the
shooting, the three admitted to breaking into approximately 15 cars in
Portage,” police said.