News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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December 13, 2011

Burglary suspect dies in police shooting

WEST TERRE HAUTE — The shooting death this morning of a West Terre Haute burglary suspect is being investigated by the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.

The name of the suspect had not been released by police as of 9 a.m.

The suspect was shot and killed by West Terre Haute Police following a pursuit that began after a citizen reported a burglary in progress, Chief Deputy Clark Cottom told the Tribune-Star.

Investigators are being assisted by an Indiana State Police forensics team.

An autopsy on the suspect is planned for this afternoon at Terre Haute Regional Hospital, Cottom said.

At this time, investigators remain at the scene of both the shooting near St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and the burglary near Church and Miller streets in West Terre Haute.

Central Dispatch received a report of the burglary in progress at 5:17 a.m. Cottom said that at the time, it was unclear if the suspect had also stolen the vehicle that was being driven from the burglary scene.

As West Terre Haute Police arrived at the scene, a vehicle description was broadcast, Cottom said. The driver of a tow truck on Indiana 150 heard that radio traffic, and contacted police to report that he saw the suspect vehicle heading northbound on Indiana 150.

When local police went north on the highway, they spotted a vehicle stopped along Indiana 150 near Michael Avenue, with a female standing outside the car talking to a person inside. Cottom said the suspect drove off, heading along St. Mary’s Road. Two police units were pursuing the vehicle past the college when the suspect turned into a yard and went behind a house in the 5300 block of St. Mary’s Road, directly across from Maryvale Apartments.

Cottom said the pursuing police units were able to do a roadblock and stop the suspect vehicle. The suspect was ordered out of the vehicle, but did not comply, Cottom said. In fact, the suspect backed up his vehicle, then drove toward a West Terre Haute officer.

“The officer felt the suspect was trying to run him down,” Cottom said, “so he fired into the suspect vehicle.”

The other officer at the scene also fired into the suspect vehicle.

The suspect was fatally wounded. It was unknown how many times the suspect, described as a white male, was shot.

Detective Lt. Steve Barnhart of the Sheriff’s Department said at least 10 rounds were fired by the officers at the scene. The service weapons of those officers were taken as part of the investigation by the ISP criminal incident team, whose investigators also are taking statements from the officers involved in the shooting and conducting other interviews.

According to Barnhart, there was no weapon found inside the suspect vehicle, which was a green, two-door Hyundai passenger car. The vehicle will be towed to Plainfield for forensic processing.

Additional information about the identity of the suspect could be released later today, Cottom said.

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