Federal murder charge filed in shooting of Indiana officer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The gunman accused of fatally shooting an Indiana police officer threw a Molotov cocktail at an FBI field office before the deadly encounter, according to a federal court document.
The criminal complaint released Thursday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Indianapolis charges 44-year-old Shane Meehan with premeditated murder of a federal agent.
The complaint gives no possible motive for the Wednesday afternoon attack outside the FBI office in Terre Haute that killed Terre Haute police Detective Greg Ferency, a 30-year department veteran who had been a federal task force officer since 2010.
Meehan ran as an independent candidate for Terre Haute mayor in 2019, the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star reported. He told the newspaper that he took early retirement from the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute and was running to take the city “back to the basics.”
He called Terre Haute “a poor town (with) a lot of money going out” and said “we could use a little bit better government in city officials and communications with the general public.” Meehan received less than 1% of the general election vote.
Authorities have described the shooting as an ambush that happened after Ferency stepped outside the office. The federal complaint said Ferency fired shots at Meehan, as did an FBI agent who ran outside after the shooting began. Meehan was shot twice but drove away from the scene to a Terre Haute hospital, where he underwent surgery for his wounds.
Paul Keenan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis office, said earlier Thursday that the suspected gunman was in FBI custody at a hospital. Keenan wouldn’t say whether Ferency knew the gunman or was targeted for some reason.
“We’re still looking at motive and we’re leaving all avenues open at this time,” Keenan said during a news conference in Terre Haute, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Indianapolis.
Kennan described the shooting as an ambush attack on Ferency without any apparent warning.
“The suspect showed up there before Detective Ferency came out of the building,” Kennan said. “That was the reason we used that word.”
The criminal complaint said Meehan drove a pickup truck near the Terre Haute FBI office repeatedly Wednesday afternoon before stopping near its parking lot gate and throwing a Molotov cocktail incendiary device toward the building.
A search of the pickup truck after it was found at the hospital turned up a loaded handgun and three more Molotov cocktails, the complaint said.
A search of online court records showed no federal criminal cases against Meehan and no felony charges having been filed against him in Indiana courts.
Dozens of police vehicles from multiple departments joined a procession past the Terre Haute police headquarters as a hearse carrying Ferency’s body was moved Wednesday evening to a hospital for an autopsy.
Terre Haute police Chief Shawn Keen said Ferency was the father of two adult children. Ferency’s police experience included work on drug and human trafficking investigations and providing violence risk assessments for churches.
“He was absolutely dedicated” Keen said. “There’s not anything that he did that he didn’t put 110% into.”
Ferency is the third Terre Haute police officer fatally shot in the past decade. Officer Brent Long was killed in 2011 and Officer Robert Pitts died in 2018 — both in shootings that happened as they and other officers were attempting to make arrests. Authorities determined both gunmen died from self-inflicted wounds.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb called Ferency’s shooting “senseless.”
“Our heart breaks for Detective Greg Ferency’s family, loved ones and those who served with him every day protecting the residents of the Wabash Valley,” Holcomb said in a statement.