2 police officers killed in Mishawaka


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TheeBadOne
December 14, 2003, 09:31 AM
http://www.southbendtribune.com/stories/2003/12/13/Roberts.jpg
Cpl. Roberts
http://www.southbendtribune.com/stories/2003/12/13/verkler.jpg
Ofc. Verkler

Two Mishawaka policemen were shot and killed today in the first on-duty police deaths in the city's 170-year history.

Residents of the small, northern Indiana city streamed by the police station for hours today dropping off flowers and condolence cards to honor the officers.

"We just aren't used to something like this," said Mayor Robert Beutter. "It's something like 17-degrees out and people have been coming by all day."

Police Cpl. Thomas Roberts and Patrolman Bryan Verkler were shot at 2 a.m. today trying to arrest a man with a gun, said Police Chief Matt Weber.

Roberts died at the scene, and Verkler died in surgery around 4 a.m. at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend.

The officers had responded to calls of gunshots being fired in a house, but when they arrived there they were told the gunman had gone to a house two blocks away.

While attempting to arrest the man an hour later both officers were shot, police said. The gunman, who police have not identified, was also killed.

Weber would not say whether the gunman was shot by the officers or killed himself.

WNDU-TV in South Bend quoted a witness to the struggle, Andrew Moreno, as saying that after the unidentified suspect shot the officers outside the home, he took his own life.

"He came inside and sat in our kitchen and reloaded his gun and sat there looking at his wounds. He then said, 'I can't take this anymore.' He told us to leave. ... We walked to the doorway still looking at him, he cocked the gun and put it up against his head, and we said, 'No!' but by that time he had pulled the trigger," Moreno told WNDU.

The gunman's identity was withheld pending notification of his relatives.

Roberts was a 14-year veteran who worked the midnight shift his whole career. He had two children.

He took jobs painting houses on the side and liked to play the card game euchre, softball and basketball, said former police Chief Tony Hazen.

Verkler had been on the job 2 years and had married his wife, Julie, about four months ago.

"He was a farm boy and a hunter," Hazen said.

Mishawaka, a city of 50,000 near South Bend, has a police force of 103 officers. The last homicide in the city was three years ago.

Roberts' and Verkler's police car were parked in front of the station today and both were covered with flowers dropped off by friends, relatives and citizens.

"There has been a outpouring of concern from the public," Hazen said.

Beutter said police officials have been consoling the families of the officers.

"This is a small police department and everybody knows and cares about everybody else," he said.

Teams from other departments, including the Indianapolis Police Department, were in town to help make service arrangements, he said.

"People with more experience at this kind of thing will show us what to do," Beutter said.

http://www.indystar.com/articles/8/101905-6948-092.html
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Two more sad in the line of duty deaths.

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TheeBadOne
December 17, 2003, 02:19 AM
Prosecutor releases details of police shooting

SOUTH BEND -- St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak believes final toxicology and ballistics tests in a weekend shooting in which two Mishawaka officers were killed will not produce any significant new information.

"I don't expect any surprises," he said Monday as he ended a press conference on the shooting early Saturday in which officers Thomas Roberts and Bryan Verkler were fatally shot and the gunman, Raymond Gilkeson, killed himself.

The prosecutor said he scheduled Monday's press conference to outline details from the County Metro Homicide Unit's investigation of the deaths and dispel any rumors that might be circulating in the community.

Gilkeson was convicted Dec. 9 of battery and was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27, said Dvorak, and a trial on a separate battery charge was scheduled for April. The Mishawaka officers were not aware of Gilkeson's identity when they came in contact with him, said the prosecutor. In any event, he said, Gilkeson had no history of violence or threats toward police officers.

Both prior arrests were made without incident, said Dvorak.

Dvorak gave this account of the shooting: Early Saturday, Mishawaka police were told a man with a pistol had taken a gold chain necklace from a juvenile boy and a shot had been fired. That incident happened in the 100 block of East Battell Street.

The boy said the thief fled in a red car to a garage at a home at 1012 Sarah St. Police went there and found a red car. Roberts and Verkler went to the front porch of the home and attempted to talk to a man there who refused to identify himself, refused to cooperate and went back in the house.

Not knowing if the man they were talking to, later identified as Gilkeson, was the suspect in the theft, the officers had the juvenile brought to the scene. Roberts and Verkler went onto the front porch again and when Gilkeson came to the door, the boy said he was the man who took his necklace.

When the officers attempted to take Gilkeson into custody, he pulled out a pistol and shot Verkler. Roberts was shot as he struggled with Gilkeson. Another Mishawaka officer present, Michael Cleveland, fired four shots at Gilkeson, hitting him all four times. Gilkeson was able to re-enter the house. Roberts left the porch under his own power but died later. Verkler, who was shot in the head, died at the scene. Cleveland and Mishawaka Lt. John Dawson pulled him from the porch.

Preliminary ballistics information confirms versions from witnesses in the house who reported Gilkeson shot himself. Police were armed with .40-caliber weapons and Gilkeson had a 9 mm pistol. An autopsy report indicated that the four wounds Gilkeson suffered from police gunfire probably would not have been fatal, and it was the shot fired from his weapon that killed him. A shot fired from Gilkeson's gun into the floor inside the house is believed to have been a result of a reflex action as Gilkeson died of his self-inflicted wound.

A woman, three teenagers and three younger children were in the home at the time of the shooting, said Tim Corbett, commander of the metro homicide unit. Gilkeson did not live there, Corbett said.

The prosecutor's office did not ask for Gilkeson's bond to be revoked after his conviction Dec. 9 and that he be jailed pending sentencing, said Dvorak. "There was nothing particularly outrageous about it (that battery charge) that would have caused the court to hold him," he said.

There was no reference to drugs in the report on Gilkeson's actions prior to the shooting, but there was a report of drinking alcohol, said the prosecutor.

http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/279813025601813.bsp

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