HIGHLAND, Ind. — Prosecutors in northwest Indiana have released both men involved in a gun fight with off-duty police officers over the weekend outside of a bar. Two of those officers were grazed by shots.
A source close to the investigation said surveillance video from the Highland, Ind., bar, Growlers, clearly shows the officers were looking for a fight.
The source said that the video shows the off-duty officers and another bouncer following the two men they got into a gun fight with out of the bar. The source said he wouldn't be surprised if the officers are the ones facing charges.
People in Highland said Growlers is a great place between 6 p.m. and 9p.m., but after that it gets “a little rough.”
Early Saturday morning around 2:30 a.m., Joshua Ortiz, his sister Chris Ortiz, and his cousin O’Neill Cruz Burgos were in the bar, when Ortiz said his cousin left to make a phone call. When he tried to get back in, some sort of altercation between O’Neill and the bouncers ensued.
"I saw out the window my cousin was getting beat up and so I went over there and there was an off-duty cop there,” Ortiz said.
His sister took out her phone to record what was going on but she wasn’t able to get much.
“Because I was getting battered by these people they were tossing me around and phone around. I was losing consciousness," Ortiz said.
A source close to the investigation said there was five off-duty police officers working as bouncers. Some were from East Chicago and others were from Gary along with a civilian bouncer.
Oritz said one of the officers took off his police vest and badge when he asked the officer for help.
Ortiz said his cousin was able to break free at one point during the fight.
"O'Neil got up and he was running and some other guy bouncer came, went to his car, grabbed a gun, whacked my cousin so hard the gun flew 20 feet," Ortiz said.
Ortiz said what happened next was self-defense.
“We ran toward the gun and dude tackled me and then that’s when shots started firing. That’s when we shot back and we left,” he said.
Two officers were hit, one from Gary who is recovering at home and East Chicago Officer David Aguilera who was grazed in the head. The East Chicago FOP Facebook page said he is out of the hospital as well. Neither department responded when asked for comment.
Meanwhile, Highland police and the Lake County Indiana prosecutors office turned the case over to a major crimes task force due to the "complexity of the case," which a source said is likely because officers from different jurisdictions are involved.
Ortiz and his cousin were freed Monday.
"We are not just going to shoot at people for no reason. My life matters just like his life matters but if you're going to act like that, we are going to take matters into our own hands," Ortiz said.
A bartender at Growlers said they had no comment Monday evening but a source said in the last two years there has been a stabbing at the bar and a Highland police officer was hit by a drunk driver who had been over-served at the bar.
City leaders have a meeting with the bar's owner Tuesday night.