Authorities have identified the man who died Wednesday after being shot at the Kroger South parking lot located on U.S. 41 South in Terre Haute.

Sean Martin, 29, of Riley, died as a result of the incident, which occurred after an apparent road rage confrontation. Martin was a school protection officer for the Vigo County School Corp., according to a Vigo County Sheriff's Office news release.

All school protection officers are appointed and sworn as special deputies of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office. The identity of the other individual involved in the fatal shooting is withheld pending investigation and a review by the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office regarding possible criminal charges related to the incident.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved," said John Plasse, Vigo County sheriff.

A Vigo County School Corp. official told the Tribune-Star Thursday morning that Martin was a school protection officer at Riley Elementary.

"We’re saddened to hear about any act of violence in our community and our thoughts are with all involved, including those at the sheriff’s department who continue their investigation," said Bill Riley, director of communications for the school corporation.

The Vigo County Sheriff’s Office continues its investigation into the fatal shooting, which took place around 4 p.m.

The shooting occurred when two men became involved in a confrontation in the parking lot, which police believed was sparked by a road rage incident. 

Plasse said one of the men had a handgun and fired it twice during the confrontation, striking the other man. After authorities were called to the scene, the shooting victim was was transported to Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

On Wednesday evening, the sheriff's office was continuing to interview witnesses and it also obtained a statement from the other man involved in the confrontation who fired the gun. 

Investigators also were reviewing Kroger security video and any other available video.

On Thursday afternoon, Plasse provided an update on the investigation. "We are still attempting to locate witnesses and will wait for the coroner's report, so it may be a week or longer" before it is completed. 

An autopsy took place Thursday morning. The cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the chest, and the manner of death was a homicide, said Dr. Susan Amos, Vigo County coroner.

"It is up to the prosecutor's office whether it is something that is criminal or justified," she said.

The coroner also had some suggestions for bystanders. Instead of taking pictures or videos using cell phones, those who are able should try assisting a victim with chest compressions until first responders arrive. Compressions improve outcomes and keep blood flowing, she said.

"Standing around taking pictures is not helping," Amos said.

Prosecutor Terry Modesitt, who was at the scene of the shooting Wednesday, said the investigation continues and he could not comment further.

Witness account

Meanwhile, a witness, Paul Himsel, said he had just pulled into a parking spot at Kroger South, opened the door and "I hear two pops like a firecracker. I thought someone was still celebrating July 4."

The victim, Martin, "had collapsed on the ground. His arms were cuddled underneath him ... I ran over there, and the other guy, he kept saying, 'I shot him twice ... he came after me'."

That individual said he shot Martin in the chest, according to Himsel, who also has spoken with police.

Initially, the victim was still breathing, Himsel said. "I didn't know CPR."

Soon, an officer arrived and administered CPR; emergency responders and other law enforcement arrived on scene.

"It was not a good sight," said Himsel, who is 61. "It's hard to watch when you really don't know what to do."

He said he believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised everyone's temper and anxiety levels.

"That [shooting] should never have happened," Himsel said. "It's just a terrible road rage gone bad."

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

Editor's note: This story was upated at 4:50 p.m. to add comments from the coroner. 

Recommended for you