SWAT operators catch gunman in act of shooting; gunfire sends shooter to hospital

Case of "right place, right time"

INDIANAPOLIS - A man was critically injured by SWAT gunfire after officers said he was caught firing his gun at a car with people inside.

Indianapolis police (IMPD) said it all happened at roughly 1:30 a.m. in the 1300 block of Pruitt Street. (See map below.)

Police told us there have been a number of problems reported in that neighborhood over the past few nights. Among other disturbances, someone had been shooting at cars. There was also a person shot in the area.

That's why an unmarked SWAT car was patrolling the neighborhood overnight.

The officers in the car (two SWAT operators and one SWAT medic) said early Tuesday morning during their surveillance, they witnessed a man open fire on a car that had four people inside.

As the officers got out of their car, they identified themselves as police and ordered the man to drop his gun, which IMPD said he did not do. Investigators said instead, the man turned toward the officers, gun in hand, in "a threatening manner." 

One of the officers opened fire on him. It is not clear yet if he fired at the officers.

"We never want to use deadly force. We never want to take someone's life. But our officers have an obligation to protect the community we swore to serve. And they have an obligation to go home at night," IMPD Lt. Chris Bailey said.

The man, later identified as 18-year-old Javon Wilkins, was taken to Eskenazi Health in critical condition. Wilkins' cousin said he was a good man and his young cousin was recently killed, so he may have had a gun to protect himself.

IMPD said none of the four people in the car were hurt, and investigators have not released details on why the gunman was firing on the car in the first place.

"There are certain people in our community that just don't get it: You can't go around shooting at people and police officers," Bailey said. "It's just not acceptable and it's not going to be tolerated in our community, and I think our citizens are fed up with it."

Metro police have been dealing with shootings on a nearly daily basis in Indianapolis. The violence has seemingly not let up, even after an IMPD officer was slain in the line of duty last week. 

If you have information on this crime, you’re urged to report it to police at 317-327-3811. You can also always report information anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 317-262-8477 (TIPS) or online at crimetips.org. Tips can also be texted with "INDYCS" to 274637.

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