Shooting suspect Christopher Justice in court for extradition hearing
After two days on the run, police arrested the man accused of shooting his estranged wife in a daycare parking lot.
Christopher Justice, 33, surrendered Wednesday night in Lexington, Kentucky. He appeared in court Thursday at an extradition hearing to return Justice to Indiana to face an attempted murder charge. He stood with a public defender who told the judge Justice agreed to cooperate and return to Indianapolis.
Tuesday morning, police say Justice tried to kill his estranged wife, Shirley Justice, outside the Kindercare daycare on the Indianapolis west side after she dropped off her daughter. The child was not hurt.
Police believe Christopher Justice fled to a cousin's house in Lexington after the shooting.
IMPD Det. Marcus Kennedy is working the case and drove to Kentucky for the extradition hearing. He says Justice may have boiled over after a judge reversed custody orders last week for the couple's six-year-old daughter.
"So he had all weekend to stew over this and he knew she would be dropping off the kids there Tuesday and he just took that opportunity and I think it was anger," Kennedy said.
Kennedy credit's IMPD's Special Forces officers, who tracked Justice hour-by-hour, even back to his northwest Indianapolis apartment. A one-time Army Reservist, Justice was believed to have weapons when he fled the shooting scene. Police are pleased that Justice turned himself in peacefully. They credit a combination of efforts with the quiet surrender.
"We do want to say the family played an important role in this and also our detectives who worked tirelessly to develop techniques to persuade the suspect to surrender there in Lexington," said IMPD Sgt. Kendale Adams.
While in Lexington, Kennedy will start processing the car Justice allegedly fled in, a black Ford Fusion.
Shirley Justice's family says she remains in critical condition fighting for her life with several of the 13 bullets that hit her still embedded in her body. One of the biggest hurdles for doctors is monitoring possible infection from the gunfire injuries.
Once Justice returns to Indianapolis, he will face another judge, which will start the ball rolling for his charges in the shooting at the daycare. He could be back in Indianapolis as early as Friday afternoon.
Christopher's family issued a statement overnight saying,
"It is now and 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. "
The victim's family released a statement Thursday saying, "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."
Both families acknowledge this tragedy exploded out of a long-running custody battle over the couple's six-year-old daughter. A judge gave Christopher custody February 10. But his family says a filing mishap left their daughter in Shirley Justice's care, pushing him to the boiling point.
Statement from Shirley Justice's family following Christopher Justice'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."