Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

March 27, 2014

Prosecutor: Elkhart police officers justified in shooting Martin's gunman

VIDEO ADDED | Gunman suicidal, left a note.

ELKHART — Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill confirmed Thursday that the actions of the two officers involved in a fatal police action shooting at the Martin’s Supermarket in Elkhart earlier this year were “reasonable” under the circumstances, adding that the investigation will not be referred to a grand jury and neither officer will face charges.

Hill made the confirmation during a special press conference in Elkhart Thursday morning, where he provided a detailed breakdown of the events leading up to the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of two women, Martin’s employee Crystal Dikes and store customer Rachelle Godfread, by Elkhart resident Sean Bair, who in turn was fatally shot during an exchange with responding Elkhart police officers.

Bair, who was reportedly carrying both a 40-caliber gun and a large knife at the time, was shot approximately seven to eight times by the responding officers, identified as Cpl. Cody Skipper and Cpl. Jason Tripp, after the officers reportedly confronted Bair, yelling “EPD, show your hands” and ordering him to “drop the gun.”

Instead of dropping the gun, Bair reportedly raised the gun to his head and pulled the trigger as both Skipper and Tripp began firing. A subsequent investigation showed that Tripp discharged five rounds from his weapons while Skipper discharged four rounds. An additional round was undetermined.

Hill noted that an analysis of entrance wounds indicated Bair was hit seven or eight times, sustaining two near-instantaneous, immediately fatal wounds; one a fatal shot to the heart discharged by one of the responding officers, and the second a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Upon further examination of Bair’s gun, investigators indicated that the gun was fired a total of eight times, with three shots directed at Dikes, one of which was fatal; one shot at a fleeing employee, which missed; three shots at Godfread, one of which was fatal; and a final, self-inflicted shot to the head.

When asked about possible motive for the shooting, Hill noted that a subsequent investigation revealed that there was no credible evidence of familiarity between Bair and his two victims. Hill did indicate that a suicide note was found on Bair’s person following the shooting, adding that investigators determined Bair likely suffered from ongoing suicidal depression which went largely untreated.

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