Chesterton Tribune



Police: Handgun stolen here used in fatal shooting; Duneland men charged

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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.

Two other 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 Jackson Township.

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.

Reichler dropped 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.

Investigators later 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.


Posted 12/15/2014




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