Police have made an arrest in connection to an exchange of gunfire on Rockne Drive last week where officials say an Indiana Excise Police officer was shot at by a suspect they were tailing and returned fire.
Officers with Indiana State Police, who were investigating the case, arrested 20-year-old Ian Steven Austin Tuesday evening at Hickory Village Apartments in Mishawaka. On Wednesday afternoon, Austin was charged with attempted murder after court documents say he fired 18 rounds at excise officer Joseph Formato.
Officer shot at
The arrest stems from a Thursday evening incident where an excise police officer began following a suspect going northeast on Rockne Drive. The state's excise police typically enforce regulations from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission in addition to performing duties similar to other police agencies.
According to newly filed court documents, Austin, who was driving a late 1990s or early 2000s model Honda Civic, went into the Eddy Street Food Mart and bought an item before leaving the store around 9:25 p.m. Officer Formato began following Austin's car going east on Madison Street before heading northeast on Rockne. Court documents did not say why Formato began following Austin as he left the food mart.
Austin did not stop for a stop sign, documents say, and the officer was about to turn on his emergency lights to make a traffic stop, when Austin allegedly stopped near the area of Rockne and North Jacobs Street, go out of his car and began shooting at Formato.
Ballistic evidence indicates Austin fired 18 rounds at Formato, with many striking the officer's car. Court documents do not say how many shots Formato fired, but it did not appear that either party was injured during the exchange. At the time the shooting began, only the officer's rear emergency lights were activated, documents say.
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The trooper didn't pursue the suspect's vehicle after the exchange, police say, though investigators with ISP "continued to follow up on leads and gather evidence on this investigation nonstop since the incident." Police identified Austin by matching video footage and witnesses testimony from the food mart to South Bend police files from a previous crash the Honda Civic had been in, court documents say.
Prosecutors charged Austin with attempted murder, criminal recklessness and battery on Monday, but sealed the documents until the South Bend resident was taken into custody.
Email Marek Mazurek at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: South Bend man accused of attempted murder after police shootout