Investigation continues into Hope teen’s shooting death

HOPE — Investigators have arrested a Fowler teenager on a preliminary charge of reckless homicide in the shooting death of a Hope teenager on Saturday.

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s officers were sent to the 300 block of Elm Street in Hope at 9:52 p.m. about a person suffering from a gunshot wound.

Upon arrival, Hope Police Department officers and sheriff deputies located an 18-year-old male, later identified as Jesse W. Bragg, 18, of Hope, who was shot in the chest inside the residence, police said.

Medical aid was immediately rendered, but Bragg was pronounced deceased at the scene, investigators said.

Detectives from the sheriff department and Columbus Police Department responded to conduct a homicide investigation, which resulted in the arrest of Joseph T. Kidwell, 18 of Fowler, for reckless homicide – a Level 5 felony.

Kidwell is being held in the Bartholomew County Jail on a 48-hour hold as the investigation into the shooting continues, investigators said.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Office Spokesman Dane Duke said the two teens are described as friends. The weapon in the reckless homicide case was a handgun, he said.

Further details of the circumstances of the shooting were not being released Sunday as detectives continue to obtain witness statements, Duke said. Investigators are also awaiting autopsy results on Bragg, he said. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, according to the Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office.

The Hope shooting is the latest in a string of incidents involving guns during Thanksgiving weekend in Bartholomew County.

Bartholomew County Sheriff deputies arrested an Edinburgh man on a preliminary charge of murder after a shooting at 6:13 p.m. Thursday in the area of 15000 N. Bluff Road. Deputies arrested Damion Bryant, 20 Edinburgh, who is being held in the Bartholomew County Jail, jail officials said. The victim, 49-year-old Wayne E. McGeorge, Edinburgh, suffered a gunshot to the abdomen, investigators said. Investigators believe the incident stemmed from a family dispute. Further details are pending an autopsy on Monday, according to the coroner’s office.

In another incident, a local man engaged in a 3 1/2 hour standoff with law enforcement on Thanksgiving night in the 6500 block of West State Road 46 following a report of shots fired. Columbus police and later the SWAT team were sent to the address after officers were told Jerry L. Lucas, 74, Columbus, had fired a gun at a neighbor who was believed to have been struck with shrapnel but not seriously injured, police said. After the lengthy standoff, Lucas was taken into custody at about 10:50 p.m. Thursday and taken to the Bartholomew County Jail on a preliminary charge of criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, police said.

Columbus police detectives are continuing to seek information about a road rage shooting incident that was reported Thursday afternoon. At about 4:40 p.m., CPD officers were sent to Indianapolis Road near Brian Drive where they spoke with a man who said his vehicle was sideswiped by the driver of a sport utility vehicle that was passing him on Indianapolis Road.

The man advised when he pulled his vehicle over to check for damage, the driver of the SUV shot a firearm into his vehicle multiple times, police said. The man was grazed by one of the bullets but was not seriously injured.

Columbus police are seeking tips about the incident. The suspect is described as a Black male, about 20 to 25 years old, with shoulder-length dreadlocks, driving a red, newer model sport utility vehicle.

Anyone with information about the road-rage incident is asked to call the Columbus Police Department at 812-376-2600. Tips and information may be submitted anonymously.

Sheriff Matt Myers said Sunday he was extremely concerned about the number of gun violence incidents in just a few days in the county over the Thanksgiving weekend. “This is so not Columbus and not Bartholomew County,” he said. “We have two people dead in homicides and two others that are lucky they weren’t killed. We have to be proactive as far as education on guns and we have got to hold people responsible for their actions.”

Myers said since the Indiana Legislature revoked the permit requirements for guns that more teenagers are buying and carrying handguns and even shotguns.

“This is real life,” Myers said. “When you play real life games, there are real life consequences. And we aren’t going to tolerate this type of behavior.”