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Prominent Businessman Gunned Down

May 30, 2000

PORTER, Ind. (AP) _ The co-owner of an oil distributorship was shot to death by someone who rang the businessman’s doorbell and started firing when he answered.

Rick Pinkerton, 56, was hit twice in the upper body Sunday night as glass shattered around him.

``I don’t think it’s random,″ said Cmdr. Mike Veal of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department. ``I think they knew who they were shooting at.″

Police say they found two empty pizza boxes outside the house and believe the shooter may have posed as a delivery person. The shooter fled without taking anything.

Police were searching through records at Pinkerton’s business, P&P Pinkerton, and interviewing his associates.

``We’ve interviewed a lot of people, but we have no leads so far,″ Police Chief Len Smith said Tuesday.

It was the first homicide since 1984 in Porter, a town of 4,000 in northwestern Indiana.

The shooting occurred Sunday night at Pinkerton’s ranch-style home, within walking distance of his oil distribution center, said Porter Assistant Police Chief Jim Menn.

Pinkerton and his girlfriend were watching TV in the living room when the doorbell rang, police said. Pinkerton walked to the front door. The girlfriend, who was not hurt, said she heard gunshots and some words exchanged.

``There was something said but she couldn’t tell what was said,″ Menn said.

Most people in Porter knew Pinkerton or had heard of his fuel and oil distribution business. His son Jim is a weekend news anchor at WSBT-TV in South Bend.

``This is a complete surprise,″ said Pinkerton’s father, Merritt. ``I don’t know of him having trouble with anyone.″

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