ELKHART — An Elkhart teen was arrested in connection with a double shooting just west of downtown Elkhart on Thursday, Jan. 23, has been formally charged.
Thomas Harper, 19, was charged with two counts of burglary resulting in bodily injury. Each charge is a Class A felony, meaning if he is convicted, Harper could face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.
Harper was arrested only hours after a double shooting in the 1400 block of Franklin Avenue. Units from the Special Response Team surrounded a house two blocks away from the shooting, where they arrested Harper.
The two shooting victims, Gurcharn Singh and Harsimratpal Singh, were taken to Elkhart General Hospital, where they were treated and released.
According to the probable cause affidavit for Harper's arrest, Harsimratpal Singh heard commotion in an apartment nearby so he called Gurcharn Singh, the landlord of the property. The two men went around to the backyard and looked up the exterior staircase leading to the apartment where the commotion was coming from.
They saw the apartment door damaged and decided not to go upstairs to check for fear the person inside the apartment was armed or dangerous, according to the affidavit.
That's when a man carrying a handgun came running down the stairs and started shooting at Gurcharn Singh and Harsimratpal Singh.
Gurcharn Singh received three gunshot wounds to his knees, while Harsimratpal Singh received a bullet wound to his back.
Both men started running away from the where the shots were fired. Both men ended up in a gas station next door to the apartments once they felt safe. They were about to call 911 when they saw an Elkhart police officer at the pumps. The officer broadcast the information to dispatch at about 12:23 p.m.
Officers went up to the apartment where Gurcharn Singh and Harsimratpal Singh heard the commotion and confirmed the door was kicked in. They also found a laptop computer, which appeared to just have been dropped, just outside the main entry door.
The apartment appeared to be ransacked, and when the tenant arrived police confirmed several items were missing, including a suitcase and a plastic bag containing state-issued coins.
About 40 yards from the apartment, officers found a cord that appeared to connect to the laptop they found near the apartment's entrance. Police also found shoe impressions near the computer cord, which they matched to the foot impression left on the apartment door that was kicked in.
Police followed the footprints to 513 Oakland Ave., where they attempted to make contact with the occupant.
Officers talked with a neighbor, who told them that just moments before police arrived Harper had asked her if he could use her telephone.
Police talked with the person renting the apartment Harper entered and confirmed the tenant knew Harper. The tenant told police Harper did not have permission to be in his apartment.
That's when the Special Response Team was called to the scene. Officers from the Special Response Team called up the stairs and Harper eventually came out.
Officers searched the apartment where Harper was hiding and found some of the items reported stolen from the apartment on Franklin Avenue.
They found a several guns, one of which matched the description given by the shooting victims. Officers also found in a closet some sweatpants that were wet around the lower leg portion, and a pair of Jordan Air shoes that were wet on the soles. The shoes matched the impressions left outside the apartment that was burglarized and had left a trail to 513 Oakland Ave.
Harper told police he was the only person in the apartment, and he denied having any knowledge of the shooting, as well as asking the neighbor to borrow her telephone.
Harper was booked at the Elkhart County Jail.
Officers monitored calls made by Harper out of the jail. In one of the monitored conversations, Harper told someone, who police believe to be Deandre Goodwin Jr., to go to the apartment in which he was arrested and recover the "bread" from under the bathroom floor.
Police searched the apartment at 513 Oakland Ave. again and found a .22 caliber revolver underneath the bathroom floor. The handgun also appeared to be consistent with the size of the gunshot wounds the victims received.
According to the affidavit, police will conduct further testing on the firearms located in the apartment.