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The Journal Gazette

  • Riverside Villa in Ligonier, the site of Monday's shooting. (Ron Shawgo | The Journal Gazette)

  • Shearer

  • Blackman

Wednesday, March 07, 2018 1:00 am

2 slain in rare homicide in Ligonier

Prime suspect caught after brief chase; 2 others arrested

RON SHAWGO | The Journal Gazette

LIGONIER – Two people are dead and three in jail after a shooting Monday night, officials said Tuesday.

Ligonier police are focusing on Michael Johnson of Fort Wayne as the prime suspect. Johnson was arrested in Steuben County after a brief chase.

Two women, described as people of interest, also were arrested after being found in Kendallville and Fort Wayne. Police declined to name them during a brief news conference Tuesday at the Ligonier Police Department.

Police also declined to name the victims, a man and a woman, although their families have been notified.

Ligonier Police Chief Bryan Shearer said the investigation has determined a relationship among the victims and those arrested but declined to describe it. He and Noble County Prosecutor Eric Blackman said more information could be released today.

The city of 4,600 people in northwest Noble County has not had a homicide in 25 to 30 years, Shearer said, as he asked for patience in the early stages of the investigation.

“We can say to our community that there's nothing to be scared of at this point,” he said. “Everybody we had been looking for are in custody.”

Noble County dispatch received a 911 call shortly before 9 p.m. Monday about a shooting at 200 Water St., the newly built Riverside Villa apartment complex north of downtown. A man was found dead from a gunshot wound on a sidewalk. A woman, also shot, was found dead inside the building, police said.

A witness described the suspect and his vehicle. That information was quickly broadcast to other police agencies, Shearer said. A short time later, an officer with the LaGrange Police Department spotted the vehicle and tried to stop it. After a chase along U.S. 20, the vehicle was stopped and Johnson was arrested.

“So, you can see how quickly getting that information out to surrounding departments helped this investigation,” Shearer said.

Blackman said search warrants were being sought Monday and hoped to have formal charges announced soon.

Riverside Villa, a three-story complex of 54 apartments blocks north of the police department, opened last month along the Elkhart River, said John Anderson, regional manager. Anderson declined to comment about the shooting.

Indiana State Police, the Noble County Sheriff's Department, the county coroner, county prosecutor and the LaGrange Police Department are involved in the investigation.