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Posted: 8/22/2004 5:43:29 AM EDT
IPD officer fatally shot

Police say shooter, his mother also killed in Southside incident; 4 other officers wounded.

IPD Officer William Owensby (left) and Public Safety Officer Larry Bewley reflect on the death of a patrolman today in a gun battle. -- Mpozi Mshale Tolbert / The Star

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Photo gallery
Mayor Bart Peterson on the tragic event (1:01)
Police Chief Jerry Barker praises officer's response (:37)
Video: Tom Spalding / The Star
Multimedia can be played using RealPlayer

By Tom Spalding and Vic Ryckaert
August 18, 2004

Police took a cache of weapons away in January from an apparently delusional man who poured gunfire into a Southside neighborhood this morning killing one Indianapolis police officer and wounding four more.

Kenneth Anderson's mother, Alice, asked for police help and they confiscated his guns.

Timothy "Jake" Laird
With no legal reason to keep the guns, police returned them to Anderson in March.

Anderson shot and killed his mother and then took on the five police officers with his high-powered rifle. The firefight ended with a wounded police officer killing Anderson.

Anderson "bushwhacked" police as they arrived on the scene, Chief Jerry Barker said.

Mayor Bart Peterson announced he is launching an investigation into how Anderson was able to retrieve the rifles, handguns and ammunition that had been seized in January.

"We intend to get answers as quickly as possible," Peterson said. "If it means changing procedures, seeking legal changes in the legislature or elsewhere we want to find out if that's necessary.

"If mistakes were made, we want to admit those and correct them."

Police records indicate that on Jan. 18, officers went to Anderson's residence after reports he was behaving irrationally.

A police report said officers spoke to Alice Anderson, who told them that she was afraid for his welfare.

The report then says: "Officers went to 1714 E. Gimber and found no signs of any trouble inside. While inside, they found a large quantity of guns/ammunition, inside Mr. Anderson's bedroom and another bedroom." Officers took the guns to IPD's property room for safekeeping.

Anderson was delusional and dangerous, police said. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital on Jan. 20, but was not arrested.

Alice Anderson told police in January that her son Kenneth had been at her residence and was "carrying the handgun all day inside the house and rambling on about everyone coming to get them. She said Mr. Anderson would toss the handgun into her lap and tell her to use it if she needed and not to trust anyone."

On March 8, in spite of cautionary warnings from officers who had previous contact with Anderson, the department gave Anderson his guns back. A complete list of those weapons was not available today, but Barker said the inventory included handguns, rifles and bomb-making information.

Anderson had three guns with him this morning.

Rounds sliced through squad cars as the officers dove for cover. Armed with handguns, the police were out of range to return fire with their pistols, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said.

Patrolman Peter Koe took heavy fire as he shot the suspect four times with an assault gun he kept for his SWAT team assignments, Brizzi said.

The slain officer was Patrolman Timothy "Jake" Laird, 31, a four-year veteran assigned to the South District. This was the Indianapolis Police Department's first line-of-duty shooting death in 16 years.

Laird was shot once in the upper chest, Marion County Coroner John McGoff said this afternoon.

The confrontation began around 2 a.m. in the 2700 block of Dietz Street, where Alice Anderson was found dead in her home.

Kenneth Anderson was shot in the head and chest. His mother was shot in the chest and abdomen, McGoff said.

Anderson had no other record with the police, except for two traffic tickets.

After the melee, three officers were taken to Wishard, two to Methodist.

Peterson found out about the shooting at 2:30 a.m. and went to Wishard Memorial Hospital. He visited with officers who were injured, then he went to Methodist Hospital and talked to the victims and their family members.

The wounded officers were: Leon Essig, 35, shot in one arm; Koe, 41, a leg wound; Tim Conley, 43, who is in good condition after surgery for abdomen and leg wounds; and Andrew Troxell, 25, who was treated for a hand wound and released.

Police collected gun shells and other bits of evidence in several neighborhood blocks north of Troy Avenue.

IPD Sgt. Steve Staletovich said that around 2 a.m., the city's Metropolitan Emergency Communications Agency -- the 911 center -- was "lit up with people reporting there was a man in the neighborhood with a machine gun. (Dispatchers) found out from the brother of the suspect that (the shooter) killed his mother."

Staletovich said the first-arriving officer was shot before he had even had a chance to get out of the patrol car.

"(The suspect) was firing indiscriminately," Staletovich said.

That first officer survived his injuries.

The shooter left the residence and began walking outside, south in the alley east of Dietz Street.

"He was shooting in the neighborhood and in the sky, everywhere," Staletovich said.

Details on how all the injuries occurred were still being sorted out today.

Koe was shot in the knee while he was making apprehension, and returned fire and killed the suspect, police said.

A relative of the gunman was interviewed Downtown by Indianapolis police homicide detectives.

Meanwhile, officers were asking residents of the neighborhood to call them to see if their homes had been pierced with bullets.

"Everyone talks about undercover work and SWAT work being dangerous. There's nothing more dangerous than beat work," Staletovich said.

Laird is the 56th officer to die in the line of duty since the department formed 150 years ago -- an anniversary the department will mark with a ceremony next month.

Laird was married to Jennifer Lyn Laird, 30, and they have a daughter Kaylee Michelle Laird, 7.
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