State police identify SWAT team member who shot, killed county suspect

The Indiana State Police has identified the trooper involved in an exchange of gunfire that resulted in the death of a suspect wanted for shooting at a Columbus police officer.

Indiana State Police SWAT team member Eric Williams, a 15-year state police veteran, shot Quentin Starke, 44, Columbus, who had been the subject of a more than eight-hour manhunt Saturday, said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, Indiana State Police spokesman with the Versailles post.

The incident began at 4:20 a.m. Saturday at 11th and Washington streets when Columbus Police Sgt. Josh McCrary attempted to pull over a Toyota Camry that Starke was driving for a traffic violation.

A pursuit began which continued down State Road 11 in Garden City where Starke’s vehicle ran over stop sticks and then headed east along a paved road that goes past the Columbus Wastewater Treatment Plant, police said.

When Starke stopped and left the vehicle, he fired one shot with a long gun at McCrary, who was still inside his patrol vehicle, and then fled to a wooded area, Wheeles said.

McCrary was grazed by a bullet, causing a head injury, and was later treated for his injuries at Columbus Regional Hospital before being released, he said.

A manhunt began in the area for Starke, Wheeles said.

At about 12:21 p.m., Starke attempted to shoot trooper Williams, who was searching the area with other Indiana State Police SWAT team members. The round fired by Starke narrowly missed Williams — and Williams returned fire, hitting Starke, Wheeles said.

Williams and other SWAT team members provided medical attention to Starke and called for medical help, but Starke died at the scene, he said.

An autopsy for Starke completed Sunday in Decatur County by an Indianapolis forensic pathologist indicated the suspect died as a result from being shot by Williams, Wheeles said.

An investigation is continuing into the incident, and at the conclusion of the investigation the case will be turned over to the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Williams, who is assigned to Indiana State Police headquarters as part of the south zone SWAT unit, is on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues, Wheeles said.

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