RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ind. — State police are investigating, and a family is “heartbroken” after two Randolph County deputies shot and killed 19-year-old Brayden Barnhouse from Muncie Tuesday evening while responding to an overdose call.
State police said the officers were defending themselves after the teenager pulled out a gun.
“When I got the phone call yesterday, I just couldn’t believe it,” Austin Barnhouse said.
Barnhouse’s brother, Austin, said he was going through a difficult time before the shooting.
“Everybody that knows Brayden – they know he was a good person,” Barnhouse said. “He had a good heart.”
ISP public information officer Sgt. Scott Keegan said Brayden Barnhouse was the one who called police to a relative’s home in New Pittsburg in the first place – concerned that he had overdosed on a drug around 5 p.m.
An ambulance was on the way as the two deputies spoke with his family. After family members said Barnhouse had left, the deputies found him walking near an intersection down the road.
“Within a minute of making contact with Mr. Barnhouse, he produced a Glock 17 handgun and fired a round at deputies,” Keegan said.
The deputies fired back, killing Barnhouse.
“They weren’t looking to arrest him for anything. They just want to make sure that he was okay,” Keegan said. “Mr. Barnhouse’s actions forced the police to defend themselves and use deadly force against him. It all could have been avoided again by him not producing a firearm.”
The tragedy struck a small, tight-knit community.
“I know his aunt was screaming ‘No’ really loud,” a neighbor recalled. “My husband did hear that one.”
FOX59/CBS4 spoke with a woman who lives near the scene but asked to remain anonymous.
“I think it’s really sad. I think that kid had more life to go with. They should’ve done everything they could to get that gun away from him instead of firing at him,” the neighbor said.
State police said one of the deputies walked away with a “superficial wound.”
“We don’t know if that was from a direct impact from a round, or shrapnel or what,” Keegan said.
In a social media post, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office said: “Thankful all of our Deputies will be going home tonight. Our Deputies were involved in a police action shooting today and Indiana State Police will be conducting an investigation. We will have no further information at this time and respect the findings of the Indiana State Police investigation upon its completion.”
While two deputies are on administrative leave, awaiting the conclusion of ISP investigators, the Barnhouse family is just trying to make sense of it all.
“He’s supposed to take me and my son trick or treating this year. He’s supposed to be involved,” Austin Barnhouse said. “He’s supposed to be here with us, you know, and I get a call, he got killed by an officer like that. That’s crazy.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” Barnhouse’s mother, Danielle West, added.
In a social media post, the Union City Police Department said: “We stand in solidarity with our fellow law enforcement officers at the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department during this difficult time. Tonight, their deputies were involved in a serious incident, a stark reminder of the dangerous situations officers can face in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the deputies, their families, and colleagues. Stay strong, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department.”