During an hours-long standoff with police, two men attempted to escape through the ductwork of a hotel room near Edinburgh before one surrendered Monday morning and the other shot and killed himself.
Police arrested Zachery J. Baker, 26, of Waterford, Mich., who officers said is believed to have been involved in an armed robbery that happened Friday in his hometown. Police believe that Baker’s stepfather, Richard Morris, 44, also of Waterford, shot himself in the head in the hotel.
About 8 p.m. Sunday, Indiana State Police received a tip that two people from Waterford, about 35 miles northwest of Detroit, might be in the Taylorsville area.
Trooper Brent Lykins stopped at the Red Roof Inn, located more than a mile south of the Edinburgh Premium Outlets off U.S. 31, at 11:45 p.m. Monday. The clerk told him two people matching the descriptions police had given checked in using their own names, according to hotel records.
While state police formed a team to respond, three Columbus SWAT officers and Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputies kept watch on the hotel.
About 15 guests were staying at the inn Sunday night.
The front desk clerk and night auditor locked themselves in the front office. Red Roof Inn manager Vicki Larrison told employees to lock the hotel’s front doors. If any guests wished to leave, they were to be escorted by police.
Just before 5 a.m. Monday, state police contacted the men in Room 112. Baker surrendered to officers, said Sgt. Noel Houze, state police public information officer.
Police then tried to persuade Morris to leave the room. They had a warrant for his arrest as a serious violent felon in possession of a firearm.
Just before 8:30 a.m., police heard a single gunshot in the room and found Morris dead. Morris died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head from a handgun, Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher said.
After the tense situation came to an end, Larrison said she had shed a few tears — grateful that the staff, guests and police were safe but still shaken by the incident. She described the room where the men had stayed as destroyed. In addition to the bathroom ceiling being dismantled when the men tried to find a heating duct to crawl through, furniture was damaged.
Houze said state police don’t know why the two men stopped at the Red Roof Inn.
“They must have just been going down the interstate and decided to stop here,” Larrison said.
Michigan investigators were traveling to Columbus on Monday to pick up Baker at the Bartholomew County Jail, Houze said.
Waterford police said a man entered a cellphone store at 3:50 p.m. Friday and forced the owner to the rear of the building at gunpoint. The robber tied the owner to a restroom sink with zip-ties before taking cash.
After getting the cash, the man ran toward an apartment complex, police said.
The police advisory on Baker and his stepfather listed them as armed and dangerous.
As many as 10 marked and unmarked Indiana State Police vehicles, an armored SWAT vehicle and the coroner’s van blockaded the front and side of the hotel on Monday. Onlookers wondered what was going on or what had happened.
“We have been completely clueless,” said Tammy Sturdivant, manager of the Burger King across U.S. 31 from the hotel.
Dispatchers at nearby CTI Trucking, where semitrailer trucks continued to come and go Monday morning, said they didn’t know anything about what was going on at the hotel.