Officer’s gun shot downed suspect: Autopsy clarifies cause of death

The suspect in a shooting incident that injured a Columbus police officer died about eight hours later from gunfire by an Indiana State Police trooper.

The autopsy on the body of Quentin Starke, 44, of Columbus, indicated that he died of injuries from being shot early Saturday afternoon by law enforcement, Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, Indiana State Police public information officer, said Sunday.

However, the number of gunshot wounds Starke sustained has not been released.

Columbus Police Department Sgt. Josh McCrary, a nine-year veteran of the force, attempted to pull over a Toyota Camry that Starke was driving at 4:20 a.m. Saturday at 11th and Washington streets in downtown Columbus. Starke did not stop and a pursuit ensued down State Road 11 in Garden City, police said.

Starke headed east along a paved road that goes past the Columbus Wastewater Treatment Plant, 3465 Jonesville Road, and becomes a gravel road that goes by farmland, police said.

After exiting his vehicle near a treeline by the west bank of the East Fork White River, Starke fired at least one shot from a long gun at McCrary, who was injured either by the bullet or debris, police said.

A manhunt ensued with multiple police agencies searching for Starke in the area by the wastewater plant and the river.

At 12:21 p.m. Saturday, a trooper searching along the east bank of the river encountered Starke, who fired at the officer but missed. The trooper returned fire, and during an exchange of fire Starke was struck. First aid was administered but Starke died at the scene, police said.

Decatur County Coroner Doug Banks was called to handle the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest. The injured officer, McCrary, is a member of the Columbus Police Department, as is Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting, also a city patrolman, and Deputy Coroner Jay Frederick, a sergeant with the Columbus Police Department.

The autopsy of Starke’s body was completed Sunday in Decatur County by a forensic pathologist from Indianapolis, Banks said.

Toxicology results are pending and could take three to four weeks, he said.

McCrary was treated and released from Columbus Regional Hospital on Saturday. He is on indefinite administrative leave, which is department policy following an officer-involved shooting.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.