News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 13, 2013

Buza jury trial hears recording of gunfire

T.H. man facing 7 felony charges

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

ROCKVILLE — A Parke County jury on Tuesday heard gunfire on a recording of police radio traffic from a July 2012 incident in Rosedale that resulted in multiple felony charges against a Terre Haute teen.

The jury also heard testimony that the teen, Zachary Buza, stated he had meant to shoot an Indiana State Police trooper in the head when he fired a rifle out the window of his girlfriend’s home during a standoff with police.

“He was talking about taking his shots,” paramedic Rachel Harris stated from the witness stand in Parke Circuit Court, “and that if he [Buza] had done a better job of sighting, he [the trooper] would have had three shots between the eyes.

“He kept going on and on about the head shots,” Harris said of the statements made by Buza on July 22, 2012, during his transport by ambulance to Union Hospital in Terre Haute for treatment of injuries to his face and hand. But she said Buza also stated that he would have liked to apologize to the trooper.

Buza, 19, faces seven felony counts — including attempted murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated battery, criminal recklessness and strangulation — in connection with a standoff with police at his girlfriend’s residence.

The second day of the trial also included testimony from the Rosedale father and daughter in whose house Buza remained for three hours during the standoff, and testimony from three of the police officers who responded to the scene.

Trooper Brandon Mullen confirmed the statements of paramedic Harris during his testimony.

Mullen said he rode as security in the hospital-bound ambulance with Buza, and he heard the statements made by Buza against Trooper Michael Organ, who had responded to the domestic disturbance and medical emergency, along with deputy town marshal Kevin Bratcher.

“He said voluntarily that the sights must have been off on his gun because he was aiming for the officer’s head,” Mullen stated, added that at the hospital, Buza continued to make comments about the incident.

“He stated that he should have just shot the gas tank of the car. That way it probably would have blown up,” the seven-year ISP veteran trooper said.

Organ testified to the jury that when he arrived at the scene, he saw Buza inside the home with a long gun, and that after gunfire came from the Rosedale home, he retrieved his own shotgun from inside his police cruiser.

Three bullets from Buza’s rifle struck the trooper’s car — two in the rear, with one flattening a rear tire behind which Bratcher had taken cover. The third bullet went through the passenger side front window and the driver’s side front window of the police car, close to where Organ had taken cover.

Both Organ and Bratcher sustained minor cuts from shrapnel caused by the gunfire.

Organ said he returned fire four times with his shotgun, while Bratcher also returned fire with his handgun. A long wait then ensued until Buza gave himself up to police, Organ said.

The day of testimony began with Rosedale residents Rodney Lowe and his daughter Abigail Lowe, 17, recounting under oath how Buza came to their home the day of the shooting. Buza appearing intoxicated, they both said.

Rodney Lowe stated that when Buza became violent with his daughter and threatened to kill him, Lowe retrieved a baseball bat from his living room and struck Buza in the head with it, ordering him to leave the home.

Abigail Lowe stated that she got between her father, who has a heart condition, and her boyfriend Buza, trying to stop the fight. She also said she tried to take the bat from her father. She said she and her father eventually left the home to go to a neighbor’s house after some of her friends arrived at the scene.

Both Lowes said they believed that Buza was intoxicated when he entered their home, where the young man had been staying for about three weeks. Rodney Lowe said he had never seen Buza drink alcohol previously, and he was surprised by Buza’s intoxication.

Testimony will continue today in the trial, which is scheduled to run through Friday.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.