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Police: Mental health issues contributed to fatal Brownsburg shooting

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — Brownsburg police say a history of mental health issues likely led a man to randomly shoot at two Brownsburg cemetery workers on Tuesday.

Police say 22-year-old Joshua Christopher Hayes launched an unprovoked attack against two men working in Brownsburg Cemetery Tuesday around 1:15 p.m. Hayes first chased 36-year-old Seth Robertson to a nearby intersection before he fatally shot Robertson.

Hayes then chased after the second man and shot a third man who was stopped at a traffic light nearby. The third man was legally armed and fatally shot Hayes.

“This tragic event could have been much more disastrous. So, victim three not only saved victim two’s life, but he saved potentially the lives of many others,” said BPD Capt. Jennifer Barrett. “Victim three did exactly what anybody would have wanted him to do at that scene that day.”

Even one homicide is an abnormality in Brownsburg, so the unprovoked violence received a lot of attention online. Police say misinformed rumors spread quickly on social media about a second gunman on the loose. They say there were also numerous posts jumping to conclusions about the shooting being racially motivated.

“I was being provided screenshots of social media posts prior to my even arriving on the scene,” Barrett said. “So it played a huge role. A lot of misinformation was out there.”

Police met with Hayes’ family to find out the real reason he started shooting.

“That is part of what led us to exactly understand that there was a mental health component that was behind- that we were already seeing in the investigation,” Barrett said. “However, I think the biggest thing that Mr. Hayes’ family has expressed is that they want there to be a mental health awareness component to this. They’re, of course, devastated. But they’re also devastated for the other victim.”

Brownsburg police say they don’t have any evidence to believe victim number three will be charged for stopping Hayes, but say that will ultimately be handled by the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office. 

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