A man who claimed he was acting in self-defense when he fired shots into a busy northwestern Indiana Walmart store has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Alex C. Hughes, 27, was convicted in November of felony criminal recklessness in the September 2018, shooting that shattered a Walmart store window in Hobart, frightening shoppers. The Gary man was acquitted of attempted murder and aggravated battery charges and a criminal organization enhancement.
Hughes fired 16 shots, four of which hit the Walmart, while about 200 people were inside the store, Lake County supervisory deputy prosecutor Michael Toth said during Wednesday’s sentencing.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez told Hughes that while jurors determined that he had acted in self-defense when he shot a purported rival gang member during a shootout, they found he did not act reasonably when he fired multiple rounds into the store.
“You continued to fire your weapon after all danger had passed,” Vasquez told Hughes, adding that his actions “brought hesitation to people who should not hesitate to come into a public place.”
Kyran J. Hawthorne Sr., 26, of Gary, and his then-9-year-old son were wounded during a shootout between Hughes and a man who accompanied Hawthorne and others to the store, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
Police said Hughes and Hawthorne were members of rival Gary gangs.
Defense attorney Russell Brown said Hughes “didn’t do a drive-by” at the Walmart and that the shots which hit the store were intended for Hawthorne.