Fatal police shooting probe continues

The Indiana State Police is investigating an officer-involved shooting in Elkhart.
Posted on Nov. 11, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 12, 2013 at 9:36 a.m.

ELKHART — Police continue to investigate an officer-involved shooting that resulted in a man’s death near downtown Elkhart Sunday night, Nov. 10.

According to a press release from the Indiana State Police, Christopher James Ryckeart, 31, of Elkhart, was fatally shot after Ryckeart led police on a chase that took officers into Michigan and then back to Elkhart.

State police said Elkhart officers attempted to stop a blue and gray 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck Ryckeart was driving for a violation. The truck was also reported stolen.

Ryckeart was allegedly backing his truck into the path of officers as they attempted to place him in custody after a vehicle pursuit, according to the press release.

The chase, which started at about 8 p.m. and lasted more than 40 minutes, ended in the area of Marion and Fourth streets, and Ryckeart was shot behind a house. No officers were injured in the shooting, said state police.

Three Elkhart police officers fired their guns at Ryckeart.

Elkhart County Coroner John White said an autopsy was performed on Ryckeart. He said Ryckeart died of multiple gunshot wounds.

As part of the Elkhart Police Department’s protocol, the Indiana State Police was called to complete the investigation.

Police stayed until about 4 a.m. Monday collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Ryckeart had been arrested in Elkhart numerous times on preliminary charges that included burglary, auto theft and possession of a firearm without a permit.

He was arrested Aug. 10 and charged with robbery. His case was pending in Elkhart’s Circuit Court.

The names of the officers involved in the shooting are expected to be released Tuesday, Nov. 12, by the Elkhart Police Department.

Jason Bryant, a local photographer who lives in the downtown area, said he first heard sirens going off as he was walking down main Street Sunday night. Then he heard shots, between five and seven.

After that it really got quiet, he said.

Bryant got his camera and went to the area where police cars were parked. By the time he got to the scene he saw about 70 people standing around. He heard someone yell “they shot another man.”

An ambulance was parked near the scene and stayed there for about 30 minutes. It left empty, Bryant said.

From where he stood, about 40 feet from the police tape that had already surrounded the scene, Bryant saw a body at the base of the stairs behind a house south of the road.

“One cop who was taking photos literally had to jump over the (driver) to get to the other side because (the body) was basically a bridge between the truck and the stairs.”

After taking a few photos of the scene, Bryant submitted them to The Elkhart Truth for publishing.

Some of the witnesses Bryant talked with said they didn’t see the shooting, but they heard the shots.

The house where the driver was killed is a two-apartment building, which houses two families with children.

In the upstairs apartment, a resident who did not want to disclose his name said he, his wife and his daughter were home eating dinner when they heard shots fired.

“The shots were fired right outside our bedroom,” said the resident. “We couldn’t sleep all night.”

Rachel Herrera, a neighbor who lives on the same block where the shooting happened, said she heard about six shots.

Herrera said she baby-sits for the family that lives in the first floor of the two-apartment building.

The four children in that house, who are ages 5 through 14, saw the shooting while their mother took a shower, Herrera said. Three of the four children were staying with Herrera Monday morning.

“I do not blame the police, because I know they did their job,” she said. “But it was very scary for all of us.”

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