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Merrillville homicide investigation yields five unrelated arrests

Five people have been arrested on unrelated charges since police heightened presence near the northwest Indiana apartment complex where a 55-year-old man was shot to death during a robbery Wednesday in Merrillville.

Authorities have focused their investigation around the Tan Tar A Apartments at 150 E. 59th Ave. in Merrillville, Ind., where about 5 a.m. Cecil Pendleton Jr. was fatally shot while getting in his van to go to work, according to a statement from the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.

During a traffic stop near the Edgewood Terrace Apartment complex at 5850 Pennsylvania Street Wednesday evening, 18-year-old Merrillville man Deshonte Brinkley had a handgun hidden in his shoe, police said. He was charged with possession of a firearm without a permit.

Later that night, police responded to a noise complaint at a Merrillville hotel and found three people smoking marijuana and a handgun in the room, police said. Town residents Kendall Skinner, 18, and James Bramlett, 21, were charged with robbery, criminal confinement, trespassing and marijuana possession. A 17-year-old girl in the room was booked on a marijuana possession charge.

The robbery and confinement charges against Skinner and Bramlett stemmed from an April 19 armed robbery that they’re accused of carrying out with 16-year-old Deandre Clemmons, who was arrested Friday and charged as an adult. That robbery allegedly happened in the 600 block of East 78th Lane in Merrillville, and charges from an additional robbery could be forthcoming, police said.

Four other people were taken into custody for Pendleton’s death and three handguns seized by police late Wednesday evening, task force officials said Thursday. And while police consider the four as “potential persons of interest,” they are still asking for the public’s help.

Merrillville Police Chief Joe Petruch Thursday announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers. Anyone with information should call detectives at (219) 769-3722, ext. 347, or click on the “Submit a Tip” tab. at nwimajorcrimes.com.