Authorities believe that a security guard and a patient killed during an intense struggle at a Northwest Indiana hospital died after being shot by another security guard.
At around 1:15 a.m., officers were called to the Munster Community Hospital, located at 901 McArthur Blvd., for a report of shots fired and a "physical disturbance between a patient and staff," according to a statement from Munster police.
During the confrontation, a psychiatric patient began to attack a nurse, grabbing her with one hand and striking her with the other. Other nurses and staff began to pull the nurse away from the patient, while retired Lake County Sheriff's Officer Ryan Askew and another security guard, Benny Freeman, 65, tried to subdue the patient.
The patient then grabbed Askew by the neck and placed him in a chokehold. While he was being choked, Askew drifted in and out of consciousness, and according to Lake County Prosecuting Attorney Bernard Carter, the retired officer made a startling request of Freeman.
“One time when he became conscious during this struggle, he directed Benny to shoot him,” Carter said. “The nurse said he was really reluctant, hand on holster, and held for a few beats. He saw that Askew was going unconscious, so he shot twice.”
One of the bullets hit the patient in the face, killing him, and another bullet hit Askew in the arm. The bullet then traveled into Askew’s chest.
The patient, identified as Jamal Williams, 22, was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m., according to the Lake County Coroner's office. The coroner's office said Askew died at approximately 2:41 a.m.
According to officials, when Freeman, who is also retired from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, found out that he had hit Askew, he suffered an unspecified heart or respiratory issue and was admitted to the hospital for treatment.
“They were friends on the police department, and they stayed friends,” Carter said. “It was an absolute tragedy in every instance,” Carter said.
Carter said that investigators will take a detailed statement from Freeman after he’s released from the hospital. Officials said the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force will be assisting the Munster Police Department in the investigation.