Shot 3 times, home invasion victim chases his attackers
BY STEVE METSCH Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org May 11, 2013 12:07AM
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:23PM
It’s a high octane tale more likely scripted for a 3D movie screen than a real-life episode that unfolded in a normally quiet and upscale Orland Park neighborhood.
Being shot three times didn’t stop an Orland Park man from getting into his van and chasing the armed invaders who broke into his home during the early morning hours Friday and stole from him.
“He was an angry man that this took place and decided to pursue and identify them if he could. He said he was going to ram their vehicle,” Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said.
Dressed in dark clothing, two men forced their way into the home on the 10900 block of Antelope Lane about 2:50 a.m. Friday and shot a 30-year-old man who lived there, police said. They and a driver made off with several items from the home and sped away in a silver PT Cruiser, police said.
Orland Park police called the ordeal a targeted attack.
On Friday night, suspect Anthony M. “A-Train” Espinoza, 27, was found fatally shot, officials said. Authorities believe Espinoza killed himself as they approached his East Chicago, Ind., home about 8 p.m. Police are tracking leads on the other attackers in Gary, where the getaway car was recovered.
Meanwhile, the victim’s uncle, Kenny Giertz of Hobart, Ind., said his nephew could be released from Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox as early as Saturday night or Sunday. Giertz declined to identify his nephew because two of the suspects had not been captured.
The victim owns a custom car-lighting business and had been “all over the country with it,” Giertz said. But his nephew moved to Orland Park to get a fresh start and “make a better home for his family.”
“My opinion is it’s people who know him,” Giertz said. “They knew he was doing well.”
The drama unfolded as the man and his fiancee, from Portage, Ind., and their two children, ages 5 and 6, were sleeping. As the suspects entered the home, Giertz said, his nephew began wrestling with them.
They demanded money and jewelry. His fiancee gave them her engagement ring, Giertz said. As they struggled, Giertz said, his nephew was pistol-whipped and shot.
Concerned about his family, Giertz said, his nephew tried to get the men out the front door.
Giertz said his nephew’s young daughters heard the commotion and hid under blankets in their bedroom. “His kids are pretty shook up. They woke up with nightmares.”
No one else in the home was injured.
The men fled in a PT Cruiser and the victim jumped in his van and began following them. The suspects fled on Harlem Avenue and onto Interstate 80.
“They emptied their clips out shooting at the van,” Giertz said. “They disabled it, but he kept coming after them. I think he’s a hero.”
Police found guns and body armor inside the home where Espinoza died. The Lake County, Ind., coroner’s office labeled his death a suicide.
Orland Park police issued a warrant for Espinoza’s arrest and Lake County sheriff’s police followed a lead to the East Chicago address, according to Lake County police spokeswoman Patti Van Til.
Steve Roger Smith, of Chicago’s Bridgeview community, owns the Orland Park house where the shooting took place and rents it to the victim. They’ve never had problems, he said.
Nevertheless, residents on Antelope Lane awoke Friday morning to an alarming and very unfamiliar sight — police crime tape wrapped around one of the lane’s palatial homes.
“Oh my God, it doesn’t happen,” said one concerned nearby resident, who didn’t want her name used.
The neighbor, who said she’s lived in her home for a decade, described the lane as a “typical suburban community.” In the warmer months, “Everyone is either out planting or playing.”
A man who lives two doors down from the home said the Deer Park Estates subdivision is normally quiet.
“That’s why I moved out here from Chicago, to get away from crime,” 79-year-old Stanley Dybas said. “But crime is all over now these days. Shooting. Rape. All kinds of stuff.”
Dybas, who moved onto the block in December 2003, said he didn’t know the man who was shot in the brick home with a three-car garage and well-manicured landscaping. But, Dybas said, he and some neighbors have on occasion called the police to complain about vehicles in the driveway parking over the sidewalk.
Contributing: Sam Charles, Stefano Esposito, Susan DeMar Lafferty and Allison Horton