BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — While city diagrams, flashbangs, and cameras were used to help search for an armed suspect hiding from police in a Bloomington sewer, it was ultimately an Indiana State Police K-9 that brought him into custody.
Eli Swartzentruber, 37, was arrested for attempted battery with a deadly weapon and intimidation, both felonies.
The incident began around 9:30 Tuesday when police received reports of a man swinging a steel rod at people in Seminary Park. On the way to the park, officers got another report of a man in a nearby Kroger parking lot getting a hatchet from a vehicle.
The suspect then went back to the park and threw the hatchet at the people he swung the steel rod at earlier, according to police.
The man walked away from the park and as officers checked the area he was last seen, they found clothing matching his description hanging from a railing on First Street. The railing was next to a large storm drain that leads north towards downtown Bloomington.
As reported earlier, police realized the man had entered the storm drain and yelled for him to come out. The man responded by telling them he had a rifle and warned them not to follow or he’d shoot.
At this point, the Bloomington police’s Critical Incident Response Team and the Indiana State Police SWAT team was brought in to the investigation.
Police also called upon the City of Bloomington Utilities to provide diagrams of the city’s underground storm drain system to better understand where the man may be.
Although equipment designed to inspect the storm system was unsuccessful in finding the man, police did find an unfired rifle cartridge when they removed a manhole cover.
The Critical Incident Response Team placed flashbangs in the sewer, while the SWAT team deployed a camera into a connecting storm sewer in the area of N. Indiana Avenue and E. 6th Street. When the camera was about 500 feet into the sewer, a man could be seen that matched the suspect’s description.
As the search was underway, investigators were able to identify the suspect as 37-year-old Eli Swartzentruber, transient.
Police say Swartzentruber told them he would exit the storm sewer, but instead he destroyed the camera and retreated further inside the sewer system.
That’s when Senior Trooper Richard Klun deployed his K9 partner Loki. The K-9 was able to successful take Swartzentruber into custody.
Swartzentruber was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Police say he had an empty handgun holster on him.
When they searched the sewers, officers found several more unfired rifle cartridges, a machete, and a hand scythe.
Police plan to continue their search of the sewers to find any firearms that may have been left behind.
Along with his attempted battery and intimidation charges out of Monroe County, Swartzentruber also had an arrest warrant for an outstanding felony charge of battery against a public safety official in Daviess County.
Investigators say Swartzentruber was also wanted in connection to another incident that happened earlier that day in Monroe County, although details were not disclosed.