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Dillinger museum opens Wednesday in Crown Point

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) – A three-day celebration is planned this week to mark the opening of the new John Dillinger Museum in Crown Point’s Old Lake County Courthouse.

The museum’s grand opening is Wednesday – the 81st anniversary of Dillinger’s death – but Tuesday afternoon a wall will be unveiled honoring police officers from Lake County who have died in the line of duty since 1910.

“We wanted to continue to emphasize the message of the museum is about crime and crime fighting, and we use Dillinger to tell that story,” Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, told the (Munster) Times.

On Thursday, the 2009 film “Public Enemies” featuring Johnny Depp as Dillinger will be shown on the courthouse lawn.

Dillinger was born in Indianapolis and led a gang that robbed several banks and police arsenals in Indiana during the 1930s. He broke out of the Lake County Jail in Crown Point while awaiting trial in the killing of an East Chicago policeman in 1934 and was later fatally shot by federal agents outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater.

Previously the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond had material available about Dillinger. The new museum contains some of that material, but Batistatos says it is presented in a new way.

“The museum tells the story of Dillinger and his gang with a strong ‘crime doesn’t pay’ message,” Batistatos said. “We present people with the historic facts and allow them to determine who he was.”