Armed man questioned after comments about Spierer case
Authorities say a man who police found with guns and watching the bar where an Indiana University student was last seen has been released from a hospital following a mental evaluation.
Police Captain Joe Qualters said Friday that officers took the man to a hospital for a 24-hour detention as allowed by law and later were told that he had been released. He says the hospital didn't provide any more information due to patient confidentiality.
Just days before students return to the Indiana University campus, investigators seized dozens of guns from the man in downtown Bloomington who claimed to have knowledge about the Lauren Spierer case.
Someone spotted what they described as a suspicious man on the third floor of a parking garage at 7th and Walnut Streets Saturday night. Investigators say the man was watching Kilroy's Sports Bar and was armed with guns.
"Officers arrived and encountered an individual who had weapons on his person as well as a shotgun in his vehicle," said Bloomington Police Captain Joe Qualters.
Police say he had semi-automatic handguns in his pockets and a laser range finder, trained on Kilroy's. The man told investigators he had measured the exact distance, the 66 yards from his position up in the garage, down to the door of the bar.
"He was also able to tell the officers the distance between where he was and where he anticipated officers might arrive," Qualters said.
Officers say the 56-year-old then made bizarre comments about the Lauren Spierer case, claiming he met the missing IU student once at a gun range. He said he was keeping armed watch at Kilroy's, where Spierer was seen the night she disappeared.
Detectives took him to the station for questioning.
"One thing to make clear," Qualters said, "he did not have any additional information other than what had been released to the media previously, so he is not considered a suspect and was essentially eliminated as having any involvement in that case."
Still of concern to police, the man told detectives he had a lot more guns at his home on the east side of Indianapolis.
Police took him to Bloomington Hospital for a mental evaluation. A search warrant at his house found 48 more weapons, all seized by police. The man wasn't arrested and reportedly had a gun permit.
But officers say it was a public safety decision, under the Laird Law, to take the weapons away. That law was passed after a deadly shooting involving Indianapolis Police Officer Jake Laird in August 2004. It allows police to remove guns from people who they believe could pose a threat to themselves or others.
"We took full advantage of that legislation in an effort to avert a possible tragedy," Qualters explained. "We would not want to be second guessed later as to why we did not take action, if the law afforded us the opportunity to do so."
Police say they may never know what the man planned to do above the bar with guns. Now a judge will decide if he gets those weapons back.