VALPARAISO — A Texas man who died from gunshot wounds after holding hostages at a northwestern Indiana realty office had been reeling from a financial betrayal by a man who worked in that office, his fiancee said.
Roy L. Ferguson, 48, of Fulshear, Texas, died Friday at the end of a nearly seven-hour standoff at Prudential Executive Group Real Estate office in Valparaiso, about 40 miles southeast of Chicago.
Ferguson's fiancee, Dawn Brim, told The Times of Munster for a story published Sunday that she doesn't understand what triggered Friday's incident, but is certain he was upset about money he was owed by a man who worked at the Prudential office.
"I know the gentleman owed him the money. I've seen the emails," Brim said. "He originally borrowed $15,000 and he paid a little of it back and all of a sudden he stopped paying it back. The last I heard he still owed about $13,000."
She said she is sure Ferguson had no grudge against Prudential or complaints over any real estate matters.
Valparaiso Police Chief Michael Brickner said Friday that the Prudential employee that Ferguson believed owed him money wasn't in the building at the time of the standoff.
Brim described Ferguson as a loving father who had many friends. She said he'd been hailed as a hero seven years ago after rescuing a man from a burning home.
"He was kind, sweet," Brim said. "He loved fishing. He pulled a man out of a burning building."
The Times reported in August 2005 that Ferguson, who was then living in Valparaiso, was awakened in the early-morning hours by the neighbors' screams. Retired schoolteacher Joseph Joyce and his two children were trapped in their burning house. Ferguson entered the smoke-filled house through a window and helped Joyce escape.
Brim said Ferguson had suffered a series of setbacks in his life. His wife died several years ago, leaving him to raise three children. And a construction injury had left him in constant pain and often unable to work, she said.
Brim said she met Ferguson through their daughters' basketball games in Texas. She said that Ferguson had returned to Valparaiso recently to prepare his old home for new rental tenants.
"I talked to him Thursday night. He told me he couldn't wait to get back home to the kids," she said.
Police received a 911 call around 10 a.m. Friday reporting that a man with a gun had entered the brokerage office, said Valparaiso Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Grennes. There were fewer than 10 people in the building when the incident began, he said.
On Friday, Brickner said officers believe Ferguson shot himself twice in the head before SWAT members stormed the building. But Saturday, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris said that Ferguson likely suffered three gunshot wounds from two different weapons. That cannot be confirmed until an autopsy is performed. One has not yet been scheduled because of the Memorial Day weekend.