Coroner: Shooter died from single bullet wound

A Columbus man who is believed to have fatally shot his cousin died Thursday night from a single gunshot wound, the Bartholomew County coroner said.

The sounds of gunshots in the vicinity of 15th Street and Lafayette Avenue in Columbus were reported at 8:47 p.m. Thursday, when Brian F. Mitchell, 44, is suspected of shooting his cousin, Kelly R. Baker, 43, behind the home where they lived, Coroner Clayton Nolting said Saturday.

Within minutes afterward, Mitchell likely went inside his home at 1518 Lafayette Ave. and shot himself with a .45-caliber handgun, which is now in the possession of the Columbus Police Department, Nolting said.

Preliminary results of the autopsy for Mitchell, conducted Saturday at Columbus Regional Hospital, showed that he died of a penetrating gunshot wound to the left side of his chest, the coroner said.

Preliminary autopsy results for Baker, conducted in Marion County, indicated she died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, Nolting said.

Her death is being considered a homicide, he said.

Final autopsy and toxicology reports are expected in about two weeks, Nolting said.

Forensic evidence connected with the shooting deaths of the two people in the central part of Columbus is consistent with a murder-suicide, Nolting said.

Although investigators said they believe Baker was killed and Mitchell took his own life, Columbus Police Department spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said detectives were not prepared to call the deaths a murder-suicide while the case remains under investigation.

Upon their arrival at 1518 Lafayette Ave., officers discovered Baker — who had been shot several times — inside a vehicle parked behind the one-story, older model frame home, Harris said.

Investigators, who were initially summoned after neighbors reported hearing shots being fired two-and-a-half blocks south of Donner Park, talked with a witness who saw a male enter the house after the shots were fired, Harris said.

Baker was first taken to Columbus Regional Hospital, then transported by LifeLine helicopter to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where was pronounced dead at 11:50 p.m. Thursday.

Columbus police still had concerns that Mitchell might be alive, however, so they activated the department’s SWAT team, Nolting said.

After nearly five hours of unsuccessful efforts to make contact with the suspected shooter, police broke out windows of the home to propel canisters of tear gas inside, Harris said.

However, the chemical irritant failed to prompt any response from inside the home, he said.

Shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, a surveillance robot placed inside the home provided images of Mitchell lying still in a bedroom, Harris said.

When police finally went inside, they were able to confirm Mitchell was dead, Harris said.

Baker’s death was the first homicide in Columbus since September 2015, Harris said.