Police arrest suspect in daycare shooting

Christopher Justice
Published: .
Updated: .

Police have arrested Christopher Justice, a man wanted for shooting his estranged wife in a daycare parking lot.

Justice, 33, had been on the run for 36 hours when he surrendered to police in Lexington, Kentucky about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

"Our detectives will be going down to talk to him and begin the process of bringing him back to Indiana," said IMPD Sgt. Kendale Adams.

Tuesday morning, police say Justice tried to kill his estranged wife Shirley Justice outside their daycare after she dropped a child off. Shirley Justice remains in critical condition, but the child, the couple's six-year-old daughter, was not hurt.

The shooting climaxed six years of domestic problems between the two. A court ruling giving Shirley custody of the children may have been the spark behind the attack.

Her family issued a statement Wednesday afternoon that shed some light on the couple's legal battles.

"We thank everyone for their prayers and outgoing support in this tragedy. Sadly, we were not surprised Christopher Justice would resort to this level of violence. The catalyst to this six-year abusive situation was a praecipe filed by Shirley, as the judge was out of compliance and this removed him from the case. Any order signed by Judge McCarty was negated, and the order he signed would have given the documented domestic violence abuser, custody of their daughter. Custody has been a battle involving mandated psychiatric testing, which came back that she was more than stable and equipped to be a parent, and bias against a single parent with limited resources. Any other references to her character in court documents are conjecture of Christopher's lawyer and his family. We are outraged that Indiana DCS and Family Court did not use the documented information over the years to avoid this devastation to our family. If anyone sees or hears from Christopher, please contact the police department immediately."

Shirley Justice had filed protective orders against her husband several times and told police he had threatened her life. There was no protective order in place at the time of Tuesday's shooting.

Police had obtained an arrest warrant for attempted murder while they sought Christopher Justice.

"There were several investigative techniques that were used by our covert investigators that, obviously, we don't want to reveal. We will say the family played an important role in this. Also our detectives, who worked tirelessly," Adams said.

Justice, a one-time Army Reservist, was believed to have a cache of weapons with him when he hit the road after the shooting.

"We're glad we were able to develop a rapport that enabled him to feel comfortable enough to turn himself in without causing harm to himself or officers, so we're very relieved," said Adams.

It is still unclear exactly why Justice fled to Kentucky. Police say he has some family ties there and the surrender came after Justice spoke with family members through police channels.

Meanwhile, Shirley Justice's family released another statement following the suspect's arrest:

"We would first like to thank Detective Marcus Kennedy and the entire IMPD who worked tirelessly around the clock to apprehend Christopher Justice. We also want to stress the importance of treating domestic violence with the seriousness it deserves. Victimizing the abuser and vilifying the abused is a sure way to result in a tragedy like this. Nothing can justify trying to take someone else's life. We would like thank everyone for their continued prayers and support. Shirley is still in critical condition with several of the 13 bullets still embedded inside her. Finally, thank you to the first responders and medical staff who are giving world class care to this beautiful and loving mother, daughter, sister and friend. A donation site will be set up on behalf of Shirley and her children."

Early Thursday, Christopher Justice's family also released a statement:

"This statement is not purposed to be an explanation of nor a justification for the shooting of Tuesday morning February 18, 2014. Moreover it is a statement of fact. It is now has been the sincere desire and prayer of the loved ones of Christopher Justice that 'No one should perish.' To that end we have continually pleaded in prayer to God for the life of Shirley Justice and Christopher Justice in the same breath and with one voice. Christopher's mother and I expressed, to all family members and extended family, if anyone were to have contact with Christopher to encourage him to turn himself in to the authorities. In fact, that is exactly what occurred. Christopher Justice turned himself in to police at 150 East Main Street, Lexington KY in the company of a relative at about 8:25PM February 19, 2014.

"That same relative also called an officer with the Indianapolis police department to inform them of Christopher's action. Christopher was not hunted down and captured, he gave himself up to the authorities. Not the action of a mad man or a monster. Judging him is the province of the Court not his family. Nor do we attempt to slander anyone.

"Fact, this is about the custody of a child. Although, at least, one reporter used the adjective of draconian to describe the court order of February 10, 2014 which gave Christopher total legal and physical custody of his daughter, that order was not made in a vacuum or without a host of evidence. If that filing was indeed 'late' the deliberation was diligent. After this long fight for the protection of his only child appeared to be for nothing due to a filing date mishap, this tragic event occurred. We continue to pray for all parties affected by the recent events."