By Eric Andrews and Katherine Yeager | Echo
UPDATED Oct. 5 at 4:37 p.m.
Editor's Note: Provost Jeff Moshier reported Wednesday morning: "Classes will resume at noon today following the resolution of an all-night police search near Upland and the Taylor campus. The Boren Center, KSAC, and other campus facilities are now open. Chapel services at 10 am have been cancelled. Suspects in an armed robbery in Daleville, Ind., were apprehended on CR 700s in the past hour. They were originally stopped near Upland last evening and fled on foot. Taylor police and campus officials monitored the search throughout the night, which led to their request for students to stay indoors as a precaution. We give thanks to God for a peaceful resolution to this situation."
Police arrested two armed robbery suspects from Fort Wayne who were taken into custody at 8:47 a.m. and 8:48 a.m., respectively, Wednesday. The suspects, Steeve E. Louis and Elijah N. Shores, are currently being held at the Delaware County jail on robbery-related charges.
According to the Delaware County police, Louis has been charged with robbery, resisting law enforcement, carrying a handgun without a license, auto theft, dangerous possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana and is being held with a $52,500 bond.
Shores has been charged with robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a handgun without a license, auto theft and resisting law enforcement, as well as an accusation of parole violation. Shores is being held without a bond.
Both suspects have a criminal history. Shores was previously charged with auto theft on Aug. 24 for stealing a vehicle and the reception of stolen auto parts. Shores also has a burglary conviction with a six year sentence in Allan County from Jan. 13, 2015. Louis was charged with robbery on Jan. 8, 2016 and released with a $10,000 bond, and has also been convicted of resisting law enforcement and possession of marijuana.
Custody was confirmed at 8:51 a.m. by law enforcement and TUAlert, a Taylor University emergency text messaging service, which gave students an all-clear message to resume normal activities at 8:57 a.m.
Law enforcement apprehended the suspects after a command was set up at 8:46 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of 700 S and 800 E in Upland by a gravel company two miles off campus. Law enforcement then caught the suspects attempting to cross 700 S.
The suspects robbed a Daleville, Ind. Shell convenience store on IN 67 Tuesday evening, leading Taylor University to take precautions after suspects fled from police on foot near Upland Tuesday night. That caution, according to Jim Garringer, director of media relations, prompted Taylor to encourage students to remain inside Tuesday evening and decide to cancel chapel and classes until noon Wednesday.
The suspects fled in a silver vehicle and led authorities on a chase northbound on I-69 at 100 mph into Grant County, according to a series of tweets issued by The Star (Muncie) Press Crime & Justice Reporter, Douglas Walker. The Grant County Sheriff's Department, Delaware County Sheriff's Department, Daleville Police Department and Indiana State Police all worked together in the car chase, according to ABC 21. According to Lt. Eric L. Fields of the Grant County Sheriff's Office, the two suspects fled on foot when the vehicle was stopped by police near 8400 E. SR 26, near the intersection of SR 26 and Wheeling Pike in Grant County. The intersection, portions of which were closed Tuesday evening, is located five miles from Taylor's campus.
Law enforcement used heat signatures and night-vision drones to attempt to locate the suspects Tuesday evening into early Wednesday morning. The suspects were considered armed and dangerous, according to ABC 21.
At 7:54 a.m. Wednesday, both suspects were spotted on foot by law enforcement, leading to their capture.
At 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, an email announcement was sent to Taylor students, faculty and staff, approved by Moshier, alerting the Taylor community that classes would be canceled and activities suspended until noon or further notice. Eastbrook Community Schools also canceled classes for the day, according to an RTV 6 article.
In a Facebook post, local resident Christal Keller said that, while driving home Tuesday around 8:10 p.m., she did not realize the robbers were driving behind her.
"We pulled over and about a quarter mile past our wheeling pike and 26 intersection they fled on foot," Keller said. "They lost them at the river. Which is just out back! But they were clearing barns near Hoggy Miller road."
Keller added that a helicopter and night-vision drones were summoned. Local resident Gabe Sheets commented on Keller's post and stated the drone flew over his back yard.
Amy Breedlove, an individual who commented on Keller's post, said a similar incident of armed robbery happened at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Tuesday evening. In the incident at IUPUI, according to Fox News, a group of men fled the scene in a silver four-door vehicle.
Taylor senior Aaron Voss was studying for a macroeconomics test with a group of classmates when he received a call. Police were at his house. Voss drove home and found nine police officers from Daleville, Gaston and other local police forces.
"I was only (a part) of the chase for a few minutes but it was clear that police were in a serious pursuit of two armed robbers which they were prepared to bring down pacifically or otherwise," Voss said. "It was pitch black everywhere, the situation was simply intense, and I had an enormous amount of respect for our local police forces. It definitely felt like something from a movie, pitch black environment, two robbers on the loose, and a team of armed police (officers) on their track. Even though I wasn't much help in the investigation, it felt sobering being so close to a live and very active police chase. A night I certainly won't forget anytime soon."
Minutes after Voss left for home, students reported receiving a text message from TUAlert. The Taylor community received a total of seven texts from the emergency alert service, the most recently of which was sent at 8:57 a.m. Wednesday:
9:25 p.m. EST "Police situation occurring off campus nearby. Please stay indoors seek safe location until further notice."
10:05 p.m. EST "There is a police situation near, but off campus. As a precautionary measure, please remain in a safe secure location while police continue to handle t"
11:24 p.m. EST "Off campus police situation is ongoing. Please continue to seek a safe and secure location indoors. Will update as information becomes available."
6:02 a.m. EST "Police situation still ongoing. Classes and offices are closed until noon/further notice. Stay in safe secure location until all clear through TUAlert."
6:34 a.m. EST "Ongoing police situation, only essential personnel report to campus, check with immediate supervisor."
8:28 a.m. EST "The police situation has escalated. Please remain inside."
8:57 a.m. EST "All clear. Police situation resolved. Resume normal activities."
"The key to situations like this being effective and safe is good communication, good training and the ability to collaborate well with other departments," Police Chief Jeff Wallace said. "The scenario obviously ended well; no one was hurt. It was just a really good operation from multiple jurisdictions as we collaborated on a joint effort in a way that was controlled, professional and provided safety and security not only for Taylor, but for the surrounding community. Residence life, student development, our faculty, everybody was a part of this communications piece. With everybody playing a part and making sure messages came out timely, clear and concise and responses given to concerns of students, faculty and staff made for a high level of professionalism and service."
Two buses of Taylor students returning from a field trip on Tuesday were diverted to an alternate route due to portions of SR 26 being shut down during the hunt. The buses were redirected after arriving at the SR 26-Wheeling Pike intersection. Junior Kelly Sisson, a student on one of the buses, reported passing eight police cars on the way back to campus.
Several students on campus received the text messages while studying in the library Tuesday night and expressed gratitude for the alert system and concern for the situation.
"I'm really grateful for TU alerts and Jeff Wallace and the whole team," senior Bella Purcell said. "Even though this has been going on I've never felt unsafe."
Junior Josie Luptak felt grateful to be with friends in the midst of a scary situation and thankful for the police at work. Luptak and her friends gathered around a police scanner and listened to the events unfold.
"I was emotionally distressed and felt that I couldn't do my work," senior Lauren Huffman said. "I'm really grateful for the TU alert system. I've never seen it used in such a legitimate way. It's usually a boil advisory or something."
According to an email sent out from Director of the Counseling Center Caroline Poland, The center will be open from 12-5 p.m. Wednesday to the Taylor student body to provide a space for students to process the nearby police situation that occurred Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. Those who wish to speak with a counselor can email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the counseling center office in Boren 250. The counseling center will also provide a sensory-grounding box making station by the Jumping Bean from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday.