An attempted robbery at a senior citizens social club in Gary, Indiana, Wednesday night resulted in an exchange of gunfire between the armed suspect and a club patron. Four people remain in the hospital, including the suspect, a local ABC affiliate reported.
Witnesses say it was about 11:30 p.m. when two men walked into the club, ironically named the Safe and Sound Social Club, wearing hoodies with their faces partially covered, brandished a firearm and ordered those inside to get down on the floor.
According to the Chicago Tribune, two other people may have been involved in the attempted robbery, but got locked out of the club when one patron left and locked the door behind him before they could get inside with their accomplice who was already inside.
Some of the patrons were still able to escape out of the front door unharmed, including Jessie Sturgis, who called the police. Others hid in a utility closet as the gunfire erupted, which Sturgis said he could hear from outside.
At some point, the second suspect ran off, witnesses say.
However, the remaining suspect wasn’t the only one in the club that was armed. After 65-year-old E.C. Robinson was shot twice, he returned fire, striking the suspect, who then hid in the bathroom until police arrived.
Altogether five people were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds, including the suspect, 23-year-old Kendall Reed of Chicago. One of the club patrons has since been released and the conditions of the others are unknown at this time. The suspect remains in the hospital under police custody.
Former club member, Pleas Yates, told reporters that while the club is meant to be a place for older folks, trouble started when younger people started to frequent the establishment.
“In the first place, it should be for members only and if you bring a person in, you’re responsible for his conduct, but they changed the rules though and let anybody in, that’s where the problem comes in,” Yates said.
And apparently the club has seen another kind of trouble in the past as well. Back in 2011, the club was raided twice for serving alcohol without a permit and for promoting professional gambling.
Nonetheless, Sturgis says he hopes the incident will send a clear message to youngsters looking to come to the club to cause trouble, who he says are usually from the Chicago area.
“We’re in Indiana, they from Illinois. They don’t know people got permits to carry guns, so bang bang, that’s what happens,” Sturgis said.