BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Police in Bloomington have identified the man who was taken into custody after a nearly eight-hour incident that ended in the storm sewers near the Indiana University campus.
Eli Swartzentruber, 37, is facing preliminary charges of attempted battery with a deadly weapon and intimidation, both felonies.
Bloomington police say the ordeal started around 9:30 a.m. when officers were called to Seminary Park after receiving a report of a man swinging a steel rod at several people. Before police arrived, the man allegedly got a hatchet out of a vehicle and threw it at the same individuals.
Witnesses told police the man was last seen walking south toward 1st Street.
Officers then noticed clothing hanging from a railing near a storm drain that matched the suspect's clothes. The officers yelled into the drain, which goes north toward downtown Bloomington between College Avenue and Walnut Street, trying to make contact with Swartzentruber. Police said the man yelled back, telling police not to enter the drain and that he had a rifle.
Swartzentruber allegedly threatened to shoot the officers if they entered the drain, police said.
Officers from the Bloomington Police Department's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), along with an Indiana State Police SWAT team, were called to the scene.
As police removed manhole covers in attempt to locate and communicate with the suspect, officers found an unfired rifle cartridge in the sewer below Smith Avenue.
Swartzentruber, who was already wanted on an arrest warrant for battery against a public safety official in Daviess County, was also wanted by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for an incident investigators say he was involved in earlier in the morning Tuesday.
SWAT members were eventually able to make contact with Swartzetruber with a camera from City of Bloomington Utilities, reportedly under Kirkwood Avenue. He told police he would leave the sewer to the north, but ran southwest - further into the drain - after destroying the camera.
At 5 p.m., and while 13News cameras were rolling, Swartzentruber was apprehended by Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Richard Klun's K-9 partner, Loki, and was taken into custody when he exited the sewer. Police said he was wearing an empty handgun holster when he was arrested, but officers did not find a rifle or handgun during their search of the storm sewer.
They did, however, find a hand scythe, machete and rifle cartridges. The search for more potential weapons, particularly firearms, will continue, police said.
According to Bloomington Police, no shots were fired during the incident.
Swartzentruber, who police said was homeless, was taken to IU Health Bloomington Hospital for treatment and will be taken to the Monroe County Jail to be held on charges once he is discharged from the hospital.
The investigation is ongoing and police said Swartzentruber could potentially face more charges.
Timeline of events
Shortly before 12:30 p.m., Bloomington police told people to avoid the area between 1st and 3rd streets, as well as Morton and Lincoln streets.
Indiana University police were also investigating the drain exit near Dunn Meadow at Indiana Avenue. IUPD told people to avoid the area, and those who are at Franklin Hall should remain there.
People in IU buildings posted photos of themselves barricaded in rooms, waiting for police guidance.
Just before 12:40, IU tweeted that police were monitoring the area of Dunn Meadow and Indiana Avenue and are assisting with the evacuation of Franklin Hall at the southeast door.
At 2:15 p.m., IU Police updated the situation that a person has barricaded himself in the city storm system off-campus. IU police are monitoring an exit to the storm system on the IU campus as a precaution and have evacuated a building in that area.
At 3:35 p.m., police were negotiating with the suspect in front of Franklin Hall near Dunn Meadow. The suspect is still barricaded in a sewer.
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