By Chris Tye and Jermont Terry
GARY, Ind. (CBS) — A police officer in Gary, Indiana, was rushed to the hospital Monday afternoon, after being shot while responding to a report of shots fired.
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Gary Police Chief Brian Evans said shortly before 1 p.m., officers were 1500 W. 5th Av. dealing with parking violations, when an officer called in a report of an active shooter situation in front of him at that location.
A short time later, Sgt. William Fazekas, a 32-year-veteran of the force, was nearby when he saw a vehicle strike another vehicle. Fazekas activated his car’s emergency lights, when the people inside the vehicles opened fire, shooting him in the left shoulder.
Those in the area called it a shootout.
“We heard a barrage of gunfire,” said Michael Eugene.
“A lot of gun shots going off,” said Hakeem Burns.
Officers were able to take one suspect into custody, according to Evans, but a second “person of interest” remained at large as of Monday afternoon, and an active search remained underway late Monday night.
“We know that one person was in the other vehicle at this time,” Gary police Chief Brian Evans said at a Monday afternoon news conference. “The actual parts of the investigation will be cleared up as we further investigate. It’s still an active investigation.”
Fazekas returned fire after he was shot, but Evans said it’s unclear if he shot anyone. The suspect who is in custody was not wounded.
Lake County, Indiana Sheriff’s officials were helping search for the second suspect, providing assistance from their aviation, special operations and patrol units. Evans said he believes the suspect still at large is somewhere inside a 10- to 20-block radius around 5th Avenue and Lincoln Street.
The area has a lot of abandoned homes, which may be complicating the search.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, Gary police still had 5th Avenue near Lincoln Street blocked late Monday night has they collected all the evidence in the shooting.
Meanwhile, students were released early from a nearby school, and some of them were actually brought home by police because of the dangerous situation.
“We looked out the door, we saw an exchange of gunfire between the officer – and they were trying to apprehend the subjects,” Eugene said.
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Eugene works security at a business less than a block away. He said the gunfire was so loud that they thought it was in their parking lot at first.
“My thing; my objective was to keep everybody in the store and make sure police could do their jobs,” he said.
Fazekas is currently assigned as an investigator with the violent crimes division, and joined the force in December 1989, Evans said.
He was stabilized after being taken to a local hospital, and was later transferred to the University of Chicago Medical Center for further treatment. Evans said the officer was in good spirits.
Police confirmed Tuesday morning, Fazekas is expected to undergo shoulder surgery later in the day.
CBS 2 was told Fazekas was able to talk Monday night.
Back in 1996, CBS 2 interviewed then-Detective Fazekas about an investigation in which a 13-year-old boy was accused of shooting and killing his mother after a quarrel over bad grades.
Gary Mayor Jerome Prince visited the officer at the hospital Monday afternoon and said he was awake and talking, and “appeared to be doing as well as could be expected in that particular situation.”
People want the remaining suspect caught – especially if he was bold enough to fire upon an officer.
“I hope they catch the guy,” said Burns.
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“That’s a brazen act,” added Eugene, “a blatant disregard for law enforcement and life itself, period.”