May 15, 2018
A Liberty Township man has been charged with four felonies after police said he fled into the woods after refusing a traffic stop early Monday morning and pointed a semi-automatic gun at a Porter County sheriff’s deputy, drawing gunfire, according to court documents.
Shawn M. Pizzuto, 31, of the first block of Covington Drive, is charged with intimidation with a deadly weapon; criminal recklessness, for reportedly firing a weapon in the air while operating a motorcycle; resisting law enforcement; and pointing a firearm at another person, according to court documents.
Because state police processed the site on the edge of Portage where the shooting took place, it is not known how many shots the officer fired or whether Pizzuto fired any shots, Biggs added.
According to the probable cause affidavit, around 1:15 a.m. Monday, the officer spotted an orange sport motorcycle traveling 81 mph eastbound on U.S. 6 near County Road 75 West.
The officer tried to stop the driver as he headed north on Meridian Road and west onto County Road 1050 West, which becomes Lenburg Road. Pizzuto struck a road sign and was ejected from the motorcycle, rolling into the roadway and in front of the squad car, documents said.
Pizzuto, who was wearing a dark-colored top and a dark bandana on his head, stood up and began running north toward a wooded area, according to court documents.
The officer saw Pizzuto reach into his waistband and begin to draw what he believed to be a black semi-automatic pistol, and then begin to raise it behind him in the deputy’s direction while he continued to flee toward the wooded area, court documents state.
“Fearing for his life, and the safety of (other officers) who had arrived on scene, (the officer) drew his department-issued firearm and discharged his weapon in an attempt to cease the immediate threat to his life,” the documents state.
Pizzuto fled and a police dog located a semi-automatic pistol and a backpack in the area, documents said.
Police learned a citizen reported hearing gunshots not far from where the officer attempted to stop Pizzuto on his motorcycle. “The gunshots were followed by the distinct sound of a sport style motorcycle engine’s motor accelerating at a high rate of speed east from that location,” the documents state.
An acquaintance of Pizzuto’s later told police she and another friend of his were in a car behind Pizzuto and they saw him pull out a firearm and fire several rounds into the air while he was driving his motorcycle, according to the documents.
She also told police they received calls and texts from Pizzuto shortly after the incident and attempted to pick him up before coming into contact with police nearby.
Police tracked ownership of the motorcycle, including pictures of it on Pizzuto’s Facebook page, and used pings from Pizzuto’s cellphone to pin him to the scene, according to court documents.
Around 5:30 a.m. Monday, an officer saw a sport utility vehicle drop Pizzuto off at his residence. He would not answer the door for police but came out after negotiators contacted him on his cellphone. A search warrant revealed the box for the gun located by the K-9, “along with wet dirty clothing matching the description of the clothes worn by the offender in the pursuit,” the documents said.
Pizzuto is being held in Porter County Jail. Information on his initial court hearing was not immediately available.
Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.