BROWNSTOWN, Ind.– A Warsaw man is facing a murder charge after a fight at the Jackson County Fairgrounds turned deadly.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department was called to the fairgrounds at 1:13 a.m. on July 28 on a report of battery and an unresponsive male on the ground.
A deputy working security for the event said Zachariah Konkle, 32, was in an altercation with another man, Michael Steele, a few hours after a visitor to the fair said someone at one of the game locations made fun of a their special needs child.
Right around closing time Tuesday evening, the family approached Konkle and asked where they could find someone in charge, according to Konkle’s account of the event stated in court documents. The family wished to make a complaint about the insult to their child.
Konkle said he informed the family he would take care of the problem. When police asked him if he ever contacted anyone in charge of the fair worker, he said he did not.
Around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Konkle said he was speaking with a friend about the incident and that’s when Steele allegedly approached him and hit him in the side of the head. A fight ensued and Konkle said he stopped when he heard Steele gasp for air.
A witness told police Konkle was the one to approach Steele, but Steele did throw the first punch. Konkle got Steele to the ground in a headlock and punched Steele five to six times in the back of the head, switched to the side of the head and told him to “Go to sleep…” according to the report of the witness.
Steele tensed up and then went limp. Konkle then got off Steele and the witness called 911. Another person at the scene attempted CPR.
Steele was taken to a hospital and passed away just before 11 p.m. on July 31.
Konkle said he has anger issues and things escalated “way too far” with Steele, according to court documents. He claimed he never said he was going to kill Steele but took things into his own hands when he should not have.
Konkle said he operated a ride during the week as his job. His criminal history includes a count of sexual misconduct with a minor in 2014, so police asked how he was able to operate rides at the fair with children around.
He allegedly changed his story to say he just did it part time to give others breaks. His supervisor told police she was unaware that he was a registered sex offender.
Konkle faces charges of strangulation, battery against a public safety official and murder.