RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. – A deputy sheriff was shot to death and another seriously wounded early Sunday in this central Indiana town when they attempted to serve a search warrant at a home in a trailer park. Authorities said the shooter was found dead at the scene.
Howard County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Koontz, 27, died at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis a few hours after the 12:30 a.m. shooting. Fellow officer, Sgt. Jordan Buckley, 35, was also shot and reported in stable condition at the hospital.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has directed that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of Koontz' funeral.
"Deputy Koontz lost his life in the line of duty and his passing reminds us all of the courage and risk that every member of our law enforcement community and their families face every day in the defending our communities," Pence said in a statement.
Sheriff Steve Rogers said the man who fired at the officers was found dead at the scene. He did not immediately identify him. He said both officers were wearing body armor.
Rogers said the deputies had obtained a search warrant for 380 West Chandler Street in this tiny (population 1,100) community 60 miles north of Indianapolis on the basis that the occupant was wanted on an arrest warrant for drug paraphernalia (syringe).
When the officers knocked on the door of the residence, they received no response, the sheriff said. They then entered the home, he added, where they exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
“Upon entry, the officers received gunfire,” Rogers said.
Other law enforcement officers, including a State Police SWAT team, responded to the shooting. They retrieved the wounded deputies from the home and tried to talk with the shooting suspect, but got no answer. They discovered his body at 2:30 a.m. It was not immediately known how he died.
Koontz was a two-year veteran of the sheriff’s office; Buckley a nine-year veteran. Both were first treated at the Community Howard Regional Health Center before being airlifted to the Indianapolis hospital.
Rogers said it was not unusual for officers to serve a search warrant during the early morning hours. He said the deputies had learned that the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant from Clinton County was hiding in the home.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, who also released a statement, said his "heart goes out to these officers and their families. I am keeping them in my prayers. Every day, law enforcement officers across our state and our country get up, go to work, and put their lives on the line to keep us safe. This tragedy is a reminder of that dedication, and of our obligation to honor their service.”
Details for this story were provided by the Kokomo, Ind., Tribune.