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October 26, 2011

Police still searching for man in Monday hotel shooting

Owner reported in stable condition

TERRE HAUTE — Police are still investigating a Monday night shooting of the owner of a Terre Haute motel and are seeking tips from the public to capture the suspect.

The owner of the Royal Inn on North Third Street was reported in stable condition at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Tuesday following surgery, according to motel staff. The victim was shot in the chest during a robbery attempt that was captured on surveillance video.

“It doesn’t appear provoked,” said Shawn Keen, assistant chief of investigations at the Terre Haute Police Department on Tuesday afternoon while reviewing the video at THPD headquarters.

The owner of the motel was struck in the chest by one bullet. However, police recovered multiple bullet casings at the scene, Keen said.

The video shows a man who is talking on a cell phone enter the front door of the Royal Inn. The suspect walks around to the side of the hotel counter, pauses to look down the hallway behind the desk, then slowly returns to the front of the counter. No hotel staff is at the desk, but the owner soon enters the room from the hallway leading to a living quarters.

The video shows the suspect pull out a handgun and point it at the owner, who moves to the cash drawer area and opens the drawer. During the next few seconds, the gunman leans over the counter toward the owner, and seemingly without provocation fires the weapon at the owner’s chest.

The owner is struck by one bullet in midchest, but stays on his feet and hurries to exit from behind the counter as the gunman heads out the front door. The video clip, released by police, ends at that point.

Keen said the suspect is a white male, estimated at 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall.

During the search for the suspect, police interviewed nearby residents, Keen said, and one person reported hearing a vehicle door slam and leave the area about the time of the shooting.

The suspect does not appear to match any other robbery suspects currently being investigated, Keen said.

The investigation resulted in officers checking at other motels in the area for any information on a possible suspect. Detective Jonathan Vandevender, who is the lead investigator on the shooting, happened to be in the area of Third Street and College Avenue when he came upon the suspect in an earlier carjacking and crash that was being investigated by Indiana State Police.

Anyone with any information on the motel shooting suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 238-STOP or THPD at 238-1661.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

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