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Family Mourns Woman Killed In Merrillville, After Her Boyfriend And Suspected Killer Was Shot Dead By Police In Gary Standoff

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (CBS) -- A woman's family was trying Tuesday to put together how she ended up dead in a Merrillville, Indiana hotel – and how her alleged killer was then gunned down in a violent standoff with police in Gary.

As CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reported, the suspected killer - Keenan McCain, 29 – was the boyfriend of victim Betty Claudio, 44. And McCain had a troubling past.

Claudio's body was found over the weekend at the Merrillville Hampton Inn.

Claudio was a much-loved mother and aunt.

"She literally would do anything for anybody, and for somebody to take her life like that, that's not right," said Felicia Rivera, Claudio's niece.

Rivera said her aunt worked as a hotel housekeeper, and was the family's rock.

"My aunt didn't deserve none of this, bro," said Rivera, of the West Side. "My aunt was one of the sweetest persons."

Claudio checked into the Hampton Inn Saturday night. By Sunday, she was dead from strangulation.

Police say evidence linked the killing to McCain, her boyfriend of just one month. The pair were reportedly fighting.

Keenan McCain
Keenan McCain was killed in a shootout with police in Gary on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: McCain Family)

"Even when I was going through stuff and I needed somebody, she was one of the first people I ran to," Rivera asid.

On Monday, tipsters alerted police that McCain was hiding in a Gary apartment at Waverly Drive and Taft Place, and barricaded himself inside.

After hours of negotiations, a SWAT team was activated. McCain, in an exchange of gunfire, wounded two officers and was fatally shot by police.

"I never met him, but everybody always spoke negative, like he wasn't a good person," Rivera said of McCain.

A background check reveals McCain had a long history of trouble with the law and various female victims. It included strangulation and protection from abuse orders.

McCain had been wanted for intimidation with a firearm and domestic battery and strangulation since the fall of 2019. In July of 2017, he was charged with domestic battery, in January of 2011 there was a charge of invasion of privacy, and there was another domestic battery charge in March of 2010.

For now, Claudio's family is trying to cope.

Betty Claudio
Betty Claudio, 44, was found slain in Merrillville. (Credit: Claudio Family)

"She opened her door with no hesitation, and she made sure she took care of everybody and loved everybody," Rivera said.

Both of the officers shot in the standoff were rushed to the hospital. Their wounds were not life-threatening and they were recovering at home on Tuesday.

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