Police: woman stabs driver

Hitchhiker gives up after locking self in truck cab

JENNINGS COUNTY — A female hitchhiker accused of stabbing a truck driver and barricading herself in a semi near a North Vernon business surrendered after an hour-long standoff that included use of tear gas and stun guns.

Andrea C. Sharber, 41, of Mt. Vernon, was being evaluated at a hospital after the Tuesday incident on Highway 7 north of North Vernon, said Lt. Mike Mowery, Jennings County Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

The previous afternoon, semi truck driver Russell D. Lewis, 68, of Missouri, picked up Sharber hitchhiking north of Mount VernonĀ along Interstate 64, which crosses southern Indiana, Mowery said. Sharber told the driver she wanted to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Lewis agreed to give her a ride and they drove to North Vernon, where he was headed on business and where the two spent the night in the semi, Mowery said. Lewis then told Sharber he had a few business stops to make in North Vernon before getting back on the road.

He told sheriff deputies that the two were talking and Sharber told him she wanted to return to her boyfriend in Mount Vernon, west of Evansville, but Lewis told her he wasn’t going that way, Mowery said.

Sharber picked up a folding knife she found in the truck and said she would stab him if he didn’t take her to Mount Vernon, Mowery said.

Lewis told the woman he needed to get out of the cab to shut the door on the trailer — and as he did, she stabbed him in the right arm, causing about a Ā¼-inch deep stab wound, Mowery said. He then got out of the truck and called 911 at 10:17 a.m. Tuesday near Decatur Plastics on Highway 7, Mowery said.

When sheriff deputies arrived, Sharber had barricaded herself in the semi cab, and deputies attempted to communicate with her using the public address system on their vehicles, Mowery said. They did not get a response although they did see her move to the front of the semi cab and then back to the sleeper section.

Indiana State Police troopers arrived and deputies threw a canister of tear gas into the truck cab, which caused Sharber to immediately leave the cab with the knife in her hand, Mowery said. Although deputies told her to put the knife down, she refused to do so, Mowery said. Officers continued to try to reason with her but were unable initially to convince her to surrender, he said.

Police used a stun gun, with one dart hitting her leg and another missing, causing Sharber to dive back into the truck and shut the door, Mowery said.

Police then used a rubber projectile shot through the sleeper window and Sharber, who had gotten some glass in her face, surrendered and came out of the truck without the knife at 11:26 a.m. Tuesday, Mowery said.

She was taken to a hospital for evaluation, but she had no serious physical injuries, Mowery said. Seven Jennings County deputies and four Indiana State Troopers were at the scene but were not injured.

The truck driver was treated at the scene, Mowery said.

Sharber was detained on preliminary felony charges of battery with a deadly weapon, intimidation with a weapon and resisting law enforcement, Mowery said. After she was released from the hospital, officers expected to take her to the Jennings County Jail, he said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.