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Police say shootout is not racially motivated

Police say shootout is not racially motivated

By Gus Pearcy

Despite the involvement of a Black assailant and white targets, Brownsburg police are saying Tuesday afternoon’s shootout which left two men dead, was not racially motivated.

“At this point in time in the investigation, we have no reason to believe this was a racially-motivated crime,” Brownsburg Police Department Captain Jennifer Pyatt-Barrett said. “We’re leaning more towards evidence suggesting there was mental illness on behalf of Mr. Hayes.”

Police believe Joshua Hayes, 22, of Indianapolis drove to Brownsburg Cemetery, got out of his vehicle and opened fire on two men contracted to work there. There is no evidence linking Hayes to either man, so this appears to be random. The two men separated to seek safety. Hayes turned to one of the men, Seth Robertson, 36, of Indianapolis and began chasing him to the intersection of N. Grant Street and 56th Street. 

That’s where police say Hayes caught up to Robertson and ultimately shot and killed him. Pyatt-Barrett said Robertson had multiple gunshot wounds. Hayes was using a large-capacity handgun and had extra ammunition.

After killing Robertson, police say Hayes chased an unidentified male whom they call Victim 2. Police are not naming the second victim for safety reasons, Pyatt-Barrett said. The chase for Victim 2 wound through a nearby residential neighborhood, ending on 56th Street. That’s where Victim 2 decided to engage the shooter and a struggle for the gun ensued. Hayes continued to squeeze off shots during the struggle. One of those stray bullets struck a vehicle at the traffic signal whose driver acted to stop Hayes.

“He realized that Victim 2 was fighting for his life and that’s when Victim 3 engaged,” Pyatt-Barrett said of the bystander who pulled his gun, shot Hayes who died on scene.

Police are protecting the identity of the Good Samaritan by request and while the investigation continues.

“(A person) can indeed intervene when they see the potential for another life being taken,” Pyatt-Barrett said. “Victim 3 stepped in because not only did he see that, at that point, Mr. Hayes had Victim 2 on the ground and was pointing the gun at his head preparing to fire again. That’s when Victim 3 decided that he had to stop Mr. Hayes.”

Not to mention, there were people rendering aid to Robertson, and other people around the scene and the neighborhood.

“There could’ve been numerous people injured and or killed, not only Victim 2,” Pyatt-Barrett said.

Brownsburg police stress the crime was not a racial one considering the state of racial unrest in the nation following the death of a Black man in Minneapolis while in police custody. Pyatt-Barrett said the department has also made a promise to be transparent to its citizens.

“We wanted our community to be informed, but we wanted them to have the right information,” Pyatt-Barrett said. “We saw that there was a lot of incorrect information on social media, as well as a lot of local media outlets being incorrect and we don’t want that.”

Police are still executing search warrants and subpoenas as the investigation continues.

“Of course, we still have to turn this entire (investigation) over to the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office for them to determine if any criminal charges will be filed,” Pyatt-Barrett said. “However, at this point, we’re saying, based on our law enforcement investigation, the only criminal actions that we found that had been committed were at the hands of Mr. Hayes.”

Shooting scene investigation on July 14, 2020 at Grant and 56th streets. (Photo by Eric Pritchett)


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