KOKOMO, Ind. — An arrest was made following a shooting incident that left two people dead in Kokomo overnight Tuesday.
“People don’t realize that their split-second decision can affect many, many people, not only for the remainder of their lives but for this time of the year when we expect to be with family members,” said Capt. Scott Purtee with the Kokomo Police Department.
According to police, around 12 a.m. officers responded to the 800 block of North Ohio Street for a report of a shooting in progress and found two men shot.
One person was found inside the home suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, according to police. He was transported to an area hospital and eventually flown to an Indianapolis hospital in critical condition. He later died; police identified him as 69-year-old Rodney Tolle.
A second person was found outside suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene and has been identified by Kokomo Police as 29-year-old Joshua D. Briscoe.
“Further investigation and statements led us to determine that for an unknown reason the individual in the house was shot for no apparent reason,” said Purtee.
According to police, witnesses identified Briscoe as the person who shot Tolle.
“They were friends and for no apparent reason Mr. Briscoe shot the victim in the head. I mean there was literally no argument at the time, so we’re really unsure why,” Purtee said, citing witness statements.
It was after Briscoe allegedly left the home that another man, identified as 38-year-old Zachary L. Thomas of Russiaville, followed him outside and shot him multiple times.
“It appears when Mr. Thomas exited the residence, he fired more out of anger than anything else,” said Purtee. He said investigators determined this information by speaking with several eyewitnesses present at the time of the shooting.
According to court documents, Thomas was taken into custody about a mile and a half from the scene of the shooting and booked into the Howard County Jail a short while later.
Thomas is being charged with one count of murder for allegedly killing Briscoe. Court records show he is being held without bond and has an initial hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Police credit the cooperation of witnesses and quick work by detectives in figuring out what happened.
“Typically people are afraid to say anything. After 27 years of doing this, I’ve never known of an incident where a witness has had some sort of retaliation against them,” said Purtee. “The citizens of Kokomo have been very, very cooperative with us this year on multiple investigations.”
“As people see that, I think it just becomes kind of expected, but we have been very fortunate this year. It becomes of great importance because if you don’t step up, you don’t know who the next victim might be,” he added.
Tiffany Black, who lives in a neighborhood nearby where this shooting happened, said she didn’t hear gunshots, but she did see the commotion early Tuesday morning.
“When I came outside the police, they had everything blocked off and the coroner and the ambulance,” said Black.
She said, especially ahead of the holiday, she is saddened to hear that a life was lost in a shooting so close to home.
“It’s so sad, you know. I feel for the families,” said Black. “It’s just unfortunate, you know, because it’s not something that happens in this area and this close to home and with the holidays around the corner it’s just very sad.”
Black said the initial sight of what was going on was a bit unnerving due to how close it was to her house, but that she doesn’t have any longterm concerns for her safety.
“I don’t worry about that type of thing around here. We pretty much stick to ourselves. I just feel sorry for the families of the victims lost in all of this,” she said.
Purtee said he hopes people will recognize the significant impact a loss of life causes for everyone, not only a victim’s family, but also community members, family of suspects, and more. He wants to remind everyone that no life is worth resorting to violence.
“Just talk it out. If you can’t talk something out, then leave the situation. To resort to violence is beneficial to no one,” said Purtee.
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Captain Mike Banush at 456-7278 or the Kokomo Police Department Hotline at (765) 456-7017. You may qualify for a cash reward by calling Central Indiana Crime Stoppers at 1-800-262-TIPS with your anonymous tip.