Police: Friend of accused recounted Dutch soldier’s killing
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The 22-year-old man accused of fatally shooting a Dutch soldier and wounding two others in downtown Indianapolis over the weekend told a friend who was with him that morning that he opened fire on the soldiers because he “just spazzed,” according to an arrest affidavit.
The friend told police that he, Shamar Duncan and another man went out in his pickup truck and ended up downtown before the shooting early Saturday, police wrote in the affidavit, the Indianapolis Star reported. Police referred an Associated Press request for the affidavit to the Marion County prosecutor’s office, which said the affidavit was sealed under court order until official charges are filed. It wasn’t immediately clear how the Star obtained it.
According to the affidavit, the pickup truck driver told investigators that someone from another group — presumably the Dutch soldiers, who were in the U.S. for training — brushed up against someone from his group, which led to pushing and shoving. He said someone from his group ended up on the ground and that they ran back to their vehicle.
The man said he was driving when one of his friends said they left their phone behind, so he stopped the pickup, according to the affidavit. He then heard gunshots.
“Shamar was shooting,” the man, who was not identified, told police, according to the affidavit.
Duncan was sitting in the back seat of the pickup, the man stated. Another witness told police that they believed the shots were fired from the truck’s backseat, according to the affidavit.
”(The driver of the pickup) said that he yelled at Shamar because he was mad that he shot,” the affidavit states. “He said Shamar said, ‘I just spazzed.’”
Duncan, 22, was arrested Tuesday and is facing a preliminary charge of murder in the shooting. He remained jailed on Wednesday and wouldn’t be eligible for release while the prosecutor’s office reviews the case, police said. It wasn’t immediately clear Wednesday if the two men who were allegedly with Duncan that morning will face charges.
Duncan’s arrest didn’t appear in online court records Wednesday and it wasn’t clear if he had an attorney who might speak on his behalf about the case.
A 26-year-old member of the Dutch Commando Corps, identified by U.S. authorities as Simmie Poetsema, died of his injuries “surrounded by family and colleagues,” the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a statement Monday. The two soldiers who were wounded in the attack suffered injuries that aren’t life-threatening, according to the defense ministry.
Investigators used statements from the surviving soldiers, witnesses, video from a bystander and surveillance video to identify Duncan as the shooting suspect, according to the affidavit.
An unnamed witness told police that Duncan and his two friends were “looking for trouble” the morning of the shooting and that the witness saw them cross a street and shove a man in a group of people, who walked away. Duncan’s group then picked a fight with the soldiers, the witness said.
The soldiers, who were in Indianapolis on a night off from training at a military camp in southern Indiana, were walking back to their hotel from a club downtown when Duncan and his friends bumped into them as they walked past, soldiers told investigators. Poetsema and others in the group of soldiers were trying to diffuse the situation, but it eventually turned into a fight that lasted somewhere between 30 seconds and a few minutes, witnesses told police.
The witness watching from across the street told investigators he saw “one of the males who were causing problems” get knocked to the ground, according to the affidavit. One of the men in Duncan’s group then stated “I’m going to go get a strap” — a slang word for gun — the witness told investigators.
According to the witness, Duncan’s group went back to their pickup and the soldiers walked to the front of their hotel. The truck started to drive off before it made a U-turn, accelerated to the front of the hotel and turned on its flashers.
The witness told police he heard gunshots and then saw the pickup speed away.
According to the affidavit, investigators were able to identify Duncan and the two men who were with him through video and witnesses’ descriptions of them. When investigators found the pickup truck, a man who later admitted to being with Duncan the morning of the shooting was removing things from the vehicle. Key identifying features had been removed, according to the affidavit.
Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren expressed concern Tuesday about gun violence in the United States in the aftermath of the shooting.
“We do many trainings of our servicemen in the United States, and we really don’t expect this to happen. So it’s very, very concerning for us.” Ollongren told The Associated Press at a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Prague.
Ollongren declined to comment on the shooting while investigations continue. She said there is “good contact” between Dutch military police and authorities in Indianapolis, and that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin contacted her Monday “to express his regrets and his condolences.”
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers