GOSHEN — An Elkhart man who was accused of attempted murder for shooting into a car before leading a high-speed chase has admitted to a lesser charge.
Ryan Hancock, 27, was arrested following the May 13, 2017, incident, which started in Osolo Township and ended with a vehicle crash near Mottville, Michigan. His shooting victim, a 23-year-old man who was struck in the leg, identified Hancock by his photo, telling police, “That’s Ryan, the dude who shot me.”
Another individual was in the victim’s car and two more bystanders were nearby when Hancock opened fire.
Hancock was charged with attempted murder, a Level 1 felony, and three counts of criminal recklessness. One of the recklessness counts was a Level 5 felony and two were Level 6 felonies. He was also charged with resisting law enforcement, a Level 6 felony, and carrying a handgun without a license, a Class A misdemeanor.
Prosecutors changed Hancock’s attempted murder charge to aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony, and he pleaded guilty to all but one of the six counts Thursday in Elkhart County Circuit Court.
His plea agreement leaves his sentence up to the court for the Level 3 and 5 felonies. The charges carry a maximum prison term of 22 years together.
The plea also sets a two-year prison term for each of the other two recklessness charges and one year on probation for the handgun charge. Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno told Hancock he could have faced up to 30-1/2 years on all six counts as charged.
As originally charged, Hancock faced up to 40 years in prison on the Level 1 felony in addition to the other counts.
Christofeno set Hancock’s sentencing for Aug. 22.
Hancock acknowledged the details of the incident as they were recounted in court by his lawyer, Jeffrey Majerek.
He said he was acquainted with the driver who he shot, and that they had gotten into an altercation that day. He said the man was following and harassing him, and eventually forced him off the road with his car.
Hancock responded by firing a shotgun at the other vehicle, disabling it. He then fired a handgun into the vehicle, hitting the driver in the leg with one of the six to eight shots he fired.
There were two other people a few houses away from where he fired the shots, a man and a woman. According to Majerek, one of the shotgun projectiles came dangerously close to them and may even have gone through the woman’s pant leg.
Chase and crash
Hancock did not admit to the charge of fleeing police.
According to court documents and news reports at the time of the incident, Elkhart County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene of the shooting outside a C.R. 7 residence around 4:30 p.m. They found the victim in his car, a black Dodge Charger, which had six bullet holes on the driver’s side, multiple shattered windows and two flat tires.
The police chase started after a Bristol officer saw the vehicle the victim described, a red Ford Mustang, about 15 minutes later. Hancock was driving 69 mph in a 50 mph zone on C.R. 6.
The officer tried to stop him, but Hancock sped up on C.R. 21 and fled into Michigan, ignoring stop signs and forcing other drivers off the road. Police said the chase reached speeds of over 120 mph.
The chase ended when Hancock crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of U.S. 12 and South River Road near Mottville in Michigan. He was hospitalized for life-threatening injuries.
Police recovered a pump-action shotgun and a .40-caliber handgun from his Mustang, which both smelled like fresh gunpowder. A South Bend Police investigator later determined that bullet casings and projectiles recovered from the Charger and found at the scene had been fired from the two guns.