Indiana News

Prosecutor: Officer justified in fatally shooting stranded motorist who opened fire

CORYDON, Ind. (WISH/AP) — A prosecutor says a southern Indiana police officer was justified in fatally shooting a stranded motorist who opened fire on him.

Prosecutor Otto Schalk said during a news conference Wednesday that the Palmyra reserve police officer nearly was struck by a shotgun blast fired by Justin Moore, 31, of Owensboro, Kentucky.

Indiana State Police on Wednesday identified the officer as Reserve Officer Zachary Holly of the Palmyra Police Department.

The shotgun blast Monday night killed a volunteer firefighter, Jacob McClanahan, 24, of Corydon, who had stopped to help.

According to the Palmyra Police Department, shorty before 9:30 p.m. Monday, Moore pulled his Ford Escape to the side of the road after apparently running out of gas in the 12000 block of State Road 135. This is north of Mauckport and about 1 mile from the Indiana-Kentucky state line.

Moore had asked a local resident for gas, or money to obtain fuel before returning to his SUV, which was still partially in the roadway, police say.

A short time later, Holly arrived to assist. McClanahan and a friend who were travelling together in a pickup on State Road 135 also stopped to assist, according to police.

Police say, during the interaction, Holly asked Moore if any weapons were in the SUV, and Moore advised there were not.

However, police say, Moore had a small knife. Holly asked Moore to put it back in his SUV.

The investigation revealed Moore entered his SUV to return his knife, then quickly turned around showing that he had a shotgun and fired at Holly.

Holly returned fire with his department pistol.

Moore then fired the shotgun a second time and fatally struck McClanahan, according to police.

Police say they have not completed their investigation.