3 Questioned in Gary Cop's Death: Officials

“They took my world away,” Jeffery Westerfield's fiancée said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officer Jeffery Westerfield was found shot to death early Sunday morning. He was a father and 17 year veteran of the department. No one has been charged with the murder.

    Three people are being questioned in connection with the fatal shooting of a Gary, Indiana, police officer on his 47th birthday, the Lake County Sheriff's office said.

    One of those being questioned was considered a "person of interest," an official said.

    Officer Jeffery Brady Westerfield was found by a citizen unresponsive in a parked squad car just before 6 a.m. Sunday near 26th Avenue and Van Buren Street, according to Chief Wade Ingram.

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    [CHI] Gary Police Create Memorial for Fallen Officer
    Officer Jeffery Brady Westerfield was shot Sunday, his 47th birthday. NBC Chicago's Anthony Ponce reports for the NBC 5 NEWS at NOON on July 7, 2014.

    Officials said Westerfield was a 19-year veteran on the force who planned to retire next August. He has four daughters and was engaged to be married.

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    [CHI] Gary Officer Killed While On-Duty
    A Gary police officer was killed while on-duty on his 47th birthday Sunday, officials said.

    “They took my world away,” Westerfield's fiancé, Denise Cather, said. “They took my best man away. …They just took him.”

    A manhunt was underway in Gary earlier Sunday. Police said a tip led them to a suspect's home in the 2600 block of Jackson Street.

    One man was injured and taken to an area hospital while two others were taken to the sheriff's office in Crown Point, Indiana.

    Police suspect the shooting may have stemmed from an earlier call in the area, possibly for a report of shots fired, Ingram said in a press conference Sunday.

    "We believe he was searching the area for a suspect," Ingram said, noting that police are still investigating the incident.

    Ingram said he did not believe the shooting involved a traffic stop. Shell casings were found at the scene, according to authorities.

    "Any loss of life, particularly a police officer's loss of life, is devastating to a department, is devastating to a community and what it means is we will to go through every legal measure to make sure that the person who is responsible for this is held accountable," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

    Ingram said the Lake County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation into Westerfield's death with the assistance of the Gary police department and other agencies. He said several officers came in on their day off to help in the search.