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Prosecutor: Pendleton officer justified in shootout at Anderson gas station

Prosecutor says police shooting justified in traffic stop

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — A Pendleton Police Department officer was justified in a shootout with a man at an Anderson gas station on Tuesday, a Madison County deputy prosecutor said Monday.

Officer Jerry Branson received minor injuries in the shootout with Ross Morelock, 39, of Anderson, at the gas station. Morelock’s only injury was a self-inflicted gunshot to his head, and he continued to recover Monday.

The shootout happened around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Get Go gas station on Broadway Street and West School Street. That’s on the north side of Anderson about a half-mile south of the interstation of State Road 9, Broadway Street, and Scatterfield Road.

Branson was searching for a vehicle involved in a May 1 crash on I-69 when when he found a black Mercedes sedan that matched the license plate number of the vehicle being sought. The officer initiated a traffic stop, and the sedan pulled into the gas station parking lot.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew C. Hanna said in a press release issued Monday that the traffic stop was captured on video from three separate sources: a security camera from the GetGo gas station, a dash mounted camera on the Pendleton Police vehicle, and Branson’s bodycam.

The deputy prosecutor wrote, “During a traffic stop on May 7, 2024, Officer Branson was confronted by a subject who was wanted on multiple felony warrants, lied about his identity, and disobeyed five separate loud, verbal commands. The subject drew a handgun and pointed that handgun at Officer Branson. Under any reasonable application of the law to these facts, Officer Branson was justified in using deadly force as self-defense and the defense of others.”

Amelia Peters, 23, of Anderson, was driving the sedan. She and Morelock were the subjects of interest in the I-69 crash, the release said. Branson had Peters exit the sedan, put her into handcuffs, and radioed for help. While awaiting backup, Branson remained at the driver’s-side door with Peters while watching Morelock, who remained in the front passenger seat.

Branson had asked Morelock to keep his hands visible, but he ignored that command and others. Branson pointed his department-issued handgun at Morelock as he ignored the commands, produced a handgun, and pointed it at the officer.

The release says the officer pushed Peters to the ground for her safety, and tried to fire at Morelock, but the gun malfunctioned. Branson cleared his firearm and reengaged Morelock, and a 10-second shootout began.

Branson received a 1-inch graze wound to his shoulder. Anderson police previously reported the injury was not believed to be life-threatening.

After the shootout, Morelock shot himself in the head, the release says.

Both the officer and the suspect were taken to Anderson hospitals.

If Morelock recovers from his injuries, the deputy prosecutor said, he will be charged with multiple offenses including attempted murder; possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon; and battery with a deadly weapon. If Morelock is found guilty, the prosecutor would seek sentencing enhancements for Morelock’s use of a firearm, and being a habitual offender.