GARY, Ind. -- Police arrested a Chicago man today in the shooting death of a state trooper who was killed while stopping to help a motorist in Northwest Indiana.
Trooper Scott Patrick, 27, was killed shortly after 5:30 a.m. EST when he stopped to check on a vehicle with flat tires that was parked on an exit ramp near the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80-94 in Gary.
Patrick saw a man walking up the ramp and tried to confront him when the man pulled out a handgun and shot him, said Lt. Larry Keiser, commander of the state police district based in Lowell, about 20 miles south of Gary.
Police arrested Darryl J. Jeter, 19, after a truck driver stopped because Patrick's squad car was blocking the road. The truck driver got out of the truck to check on the officer, whose body was lying on the pavement.
The driver then saw Jeter attempting to hide behind one of the truck's tires and pointed him out to another trooper who had arrived to help, Keiser said.
At that point, Jeter climbed into the truck and tried to put it in gear. The trooper ordered him to come out. When he refused and made threatening motions, the trooper shot him.
Police said they would ask Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter to file murder charges against Jeter, who had been driving a car reported stolen from Chicago.
Jeter was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Gary. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Keiser said.
Authorities would not say how many times Patrick was shot or where, but he was wearing a bulletproof vest.
"We're going through all the stages of grief right now," Keiser told reporters at a news conference. "Shock, disbelief, all the stages anyone would go through."
Investigators continued to gather evidence on an exit ramp near the interstate. Yellow police tape cordoned off a segment of the road, and at least a dozen small evidence markers covered the ground.
State Police Superintendent Mel Carraway was headed to the area to meet with the family of the slain trooper, said Tina Noel, press secretary to Gov. Joe Kernan.
It was the third time an Indiana officer was killed on the job in less than a month.
Patrolman Bryan S. Verkler and Cpl. Thomas Roberts were killed Dec. 13 in Mishawaka while trying to arrest armed robbery suspect Raymond Matthew Gilkeson. They were the first Mishawaka police officers to die in the line of duty in more than 70 years.
Gilkeson, 30, was shot four times by police during the confrontation in the city just east of South Bend, but he was killed by a shot to the head from his own gun, police said.
Police throughout the state paused to mourn as news of the fatality spread.
"We're a tight community," said Sgt. Ray Poole with the Indiana State Police Museum in Indianapolis. "It's very difficult."
The museum runs a memorial to state troopers killed in the line of duty. Every time a trooper is killed, other troopers mourn the loss and remember the dangers they face, Poole said.
"You feel for (the) family," Poole said. "You feel very sick to your stomach."