LAWRENCE, Ind. — A suspected gunman is dead after a shootout left a Lawrence police officer and the suspect’s girlfriend wounded in the 9400 block of Burrwood Circle.
The couple’s neighbor said it all started over a dispute about a trash can on Dec. 21.
“I don’t really know what was going through their mind because up until that point we had gotten along,” said the woman. ”We were just trying to be good neighbors and move their trash can so we didn’t back in it and damage it, and the male suspect told me he was upset because when he has to pull out of his driveway, he doesn’t want to have to move his trash can.”
The woman said that day the suspect’s girlfriend came to her door and threatened her with a long rifle and then minutes later the man fired 15 shots into her house.
“Our officers made two arrests in that incident, a male and a female,” said Lawrence Police Chief Gary Woodruff. “They were charged with level 5 felony intimidation with a deadly weapon, level 5 felony criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and level 6 felony pointing a firearm. That was the male suspect. The female suspect in that incident was charged with intimidation, a level 5 incident, and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon as a level 5 felony as well.”
The suspects faced one-to-six years in prison for their first felony offenses and bonded out of jail just a few days after Christmas.
Then, a week later, the couple made joint decisions that set them on a tragic path.
“The male failed to appear for his court appearance on Jan. 3, thus a warrant was issued for his re-arrest,” said Woodruff. “The female also had a warrant issued for her arrest on Jan. 3 as well for a pre-trial violation. It’s my understanding that the female may have removed a pre-trial monitoring device.”
Neighbors knew the couple was due back in court and had warrants out for their arrests and so they called Lawrence police when the defendants were spotted at their home Tuesday.
”The police came to serve a warrant on my neighbor for shooting my house and unfortunately it ended very badly,” said the woman next door.
The Lawrence police SWAT Team approached the ranch-style home at the end of the cul-de-sac at 8:30 p.m., deploying officers front and back with an armored vehicle in the street.
”I heard a bunch of gunshots, a loud maybe flash bang, screaming,” said the neighbor.
”When officers arrived, one of the suspects, the male suspect, exited the rear of the residence and engaged our officers in gunfire,” said Woodruff. “There was an exchange of gunfire and the male went back into the residence.”
An officer, a three-year veteran, was shot in the leg. Another officer applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding and two IMPD officers rushed the wounded lawman to the hospital.
”The suspects were shooting out of the front window of their house, then they proceeded to get into their vehicle to flee and they were still firing at police,” said the neighbor who watched a replay of the shootout captured on the surveillance camera of another resident.
Lawrence Police will also review that video along with officer body-worn camera images.
“Eventually the male and the female got into a vehicle and were attempting to leave the residence when they were confronted by Lawrence police SWAT officers,” said Woodruff. “As they were trying to exit the residence, there were shots fired from the vehicle at our officers. Our officers returned fire and the incident concluded from there.”
After dozens of shots were exchanged between five officers and the gunman, the neighbor looked out her window to survey the aftermath.
”The female suspect was dragged from the passenger side of the vehicle to get medical treatment and I believe that the male suspect was handcuffed and I believe that he was dead shortly thereafter,” she said. ”He didn’t have to die and she didn’t have to be injured and I really don’t know what was going through their mind because this was very senseless to begin with.”
The man was 30. His girlfriend is 26. They have no criminal records beyond driving violations to speak of.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the man killed in the shooting as Daylen Oatts.
Woodruff said one gun was found in Oatts’ wrecked vehicle, the driver’s side window shattered by gunfire, while another firearm was found in the house.
”It’s scary for the neighbors, and people make choices, and those choices have consequences,” said the chief, still shaken by the attack on one of his officers the night before. ”Of course, in every circumstance like this, the suspect has a say in what happened also.”
The neighbor said the couple made a decision to go out, “like Bonnie and Clyde.”
”It didn’t have to be like that,” she said. “They could’ve turned themselves in. I mean, they could’ve went to court.
“Even if you went to jail for a little bit you’d still be alive.”