The Crusader Newspaper Group

Suspect in Merrillville homicide killed in police shootout

Betty Claudio 0114
Betty June Claudio

A suspect in the death of a woman in a Merrillville hotel over the weekend was killed during a standoff with members of the Gary SWAT Unit.

During a press conference Tuesday, January 13 Merrillville police identified Keenan Steven McCain, 29, of Indiana as the person who killed Betty June Claudio, 44, of Gary.

Merrillville police stated Monday that Claudio’s last known address was the Hampton Inn in Merrillville.

According to reports Claudio’s body was found Sunday, January 12 at the Hampton Inn in Merrillville. An autopsy reveled that Claudio had been strangled.

Tuesday afternoon, Claudio’s car was found in Gary. Police declined to give the location where the vehicle was found in Gary.

It has been reported that McCain and Claudio had been dating for a month prior to her death, and the two had been staying at various hotels throughout the area.

The investigation into the homicide is ongoing, as authorities seek to discover the circumstances that led to Claudio’s death.

Police say that McCain had a warrant out in Marion County for allegedly strangling a woman with whom he had been involved.

On Monday, a search for McCain led Merrillville and Gary police to an apartment in the Westbrook Apartment complex on Gary’s westside.

According to Gary Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Dawn Westerfield, a SWAT team was called to the complex where McCain was holed up in one of the apartments.

Attempts by the SWAT team to negotiate a surrender were unsuccessful. After two hours police entered the apartment where they were met with gunfire from McCain.

Another male, who was in the apartment and was also wanted by police, surrendered and was taken into custody.

During the standoff McCain injured two Gary police officers before he was killed. Cpl. James Nielsen, a 17-year veteran of the GPD was shot in the chest and forearm, and Cpl. John Artibey, a 14-year veteran was injured by shrapnel in the abdomen and chin.

Both officers are reported to be in good condition and are recovering from their injuries.

A woman who was at the scene, who said she was McCain’s mother, also said he had moved to Indianapolis for a short time and had recently moved back to Gary.

McCain, it is reported was the father of six children, one of whom was said to have been at the scene of the shooting.

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