A man who was recently released from prison held a gun inches from his girlfriend’s face and fired a shot shattering the car window in a Greenwood neighborhood, police said.
They met at the state correctional facility in Edinburgh, where she works as a correctional officer, and he was serving two-and-a-half years for the latest of five prison terms. Both ended up held at gunpoint by police in a church parking lot Tuesday night after a Greenwood officer drew his rifle and crouched behind his vehicle, ordering them both to surrender.
Police had received multiple calls about the gunshot and a man and woman fighting in a vehicle in a residential area. The uproar started on Water Street, and police arrested the man within an hour in the parking lot of Greenwood United Methodist Church on Madison Avenue, where they happened to pull over.
Thomas Waggoner, 29, Indianapolis, was released from the Edinburgh Correctional Facility about two weeks ago. He was arrested Tuesday on charges of criminal confinement with a deadly weapon, intimidation, criminal recklessness while discharging a firearm, resisting law enforcement, domestic battery and carrying a handgun without a license.
Waggoner had been serving a sentence for a felony charge of operating while intoxicated with a previous conviction, according to the Indiana Department of Correction. He was convicted of six felonies before that and served prison terms.
A resident told police he saw two people fighting inside a sport utility vehicle parked in front of his house in the 100 block of Water Street around 8 p.m., then he heard the gunshot before the vehicle sped away. Police found the vehicle a short distance away in a church parking lot, where Waggoner was fighting with his girlfriend, Rebekah Nixon, outside the car.
Waggoner swore at and struggled with officers even after police got him in cuffs, according to a police report.
Nixon told police she works as a corrections officer at the Edinburgh Correctional Facility, a minimum-security work release center at Camp Atterbury, and met Waggoner while he was being held there, according to a police report.
After he was released this month, he called her, and they started sending text messages before meeting. They started a relationship, and she told police she had been trying to help him find a job and follow his probation rules, the report said.
Nixon has worked for the Department of Correction since November, and her status as an employee is under investigation, spokesman Doug Garrison said. Employees are not supposed to fraternize with inmates or parolees, according to department policies, he said.
Police were able to track Waggoner down quickly after the initial shot was fired, which likely prevented him from killing Nixon, 22, or hurting others, Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matt Fillenwarth said.
“He’s sitting there in a residential neighborhood cranking a gun off, and it could go through and hit someone in a nearby house,” Fillenwarth said. “Our guys did a really good job on that when the officers responded up to the church, and they handled it well. It could have turned into a hostage standoff.”
The couple had been arguing throughout the afternoon Tuesday and stopped in a parking lot near the Main Street exit off Interstate 65 in Greenwood, police said.
During the argument, Waggoner grabbed a handgun that the woman was carrying in a holster on her back. They struggled, but she let go of the gun, and he unloaded it, the report said. They talked and calmed down, and she was able to get the gun back and put it under the back seat of the vehicle, separate from the magazine, the report said.
They drove around Greenwood but started arguing a short time later and pulled onto Water Street, just east of the Greenwood Fire Department headquarters on Main Street, about 8 p.m.
Waggoner reached into the back seat and grabbed the gun and magazine, loaded the weapon and pushed it into her side, the report said. Waggoner threatened to kill her then lifted the gun about 6 inches from her face and fired a shot that shattered the driver’s side window.
The man who lives in the house where they had parked saw the struggle and called police. The vehicle sped off out of the neighborhood and drove a short distance to the nearby church, where another woman called 911 to report that a man and woman were fighting in the parking lot.
A Greenwood officer pulled up and got out of his car with his rifle and took cover behind his car. He ordered both to lie down on the pavement and put their hands behind their head, and both did, the report said.
Police handcuffed both Waggoner and Nixon and searched the car, finding a large amount of broken glass from the shattered window, the handgun and one shell casing from a .380 caliber round, the report said. That size round matches the handgun that was found in the vehicle, the report said.
Since police received multiple calls describing the people and vehicle, officers knew it was likely the same people at the church, Fillenwarth said. Police correctly followed their training by immediately drawing weapons at the scene, Fillenwarth said. Since the neighbor saw the gun and heard the gunshot, police were able to know going in that Waggoner could potentially start shooting, he said.
“When you’re stopping someone that you know is potentially armed or dangerous, you don’t walk up to the car. You pull a firearm immediately. A pistol is a defensive weapon. If you’re going to potentially get in a gunfight, you deploy with your rifle or shotgun,” Fillenwarth said.
Waggoner, 2048 N. Goodlet Ave., Indianapolis, was taken to the Johnson County jail, where he was being held on $80,000 bond.