A Purdue University engineering student was killed and a peer charged with his slaying Tuesday after a midday shooting in a basement classroom.
It was the first on-campus shooting incident at Purdue in more than 17 years.
A suspect identified as Cody Cousins, 23, of Centerville, Ohio, was booked Tuesday evening into Tippecanoe County Jail and was being held without bond in connection with the homicide, jail officials said. The victim was identified as Andrew Boldt, 21, a senior in electrical engineering from Wisconsin who lived on campus, according to Purdue officials.
The victim and the alleged shooter were undergraduate teaching assistants in electrical and computer engineering. Although listed in different ECE courses, both are taught by professor David G. Meyer.
Reached in his office during the campuswide lockdown that followed the noontime shooting, Meyer declined to comment. He later sent out an email message appealing to any students who witnessed the shooting to contact police.
Purdue police Chief John Cox said Cousins did not resist when arrested and was not armed. He said it appeared that the suspect had targeted the victim. The suspect was taken into custody moments after the shooting.
The connection between the suspect and the victim was not immediately known, Cox said, adding that there had been “little to no cooperation with the individual we took into custody.”
Purdue officials canceled classes through today and offered counseling services to students and employees.
President Mitch Daniels, who was in Colombia on university business Tuesday, issued a statement decrying the shooting.
“Violent crime, whenever and wherever it occurs, shocks our conscience and incites our rage,” Daniels said. “… Our prayers tonight are with Andrew and with his parents, who have suffered a loss beyond calculation or consolation.”
The shooting occurred in a basement classroom in the Electrical Engineering Building on Northwestern Avenue, Cox said. He said a sweep of the building was immediately conducted but that no additional suspects were being sought.
West Lafayette police Chief Jason Dombkowski said Cousins had contact with West Lafayette police on a prior occasion. According to Journal & Courier records, that was in January 2012, when he was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.
Provost Timothy Sands said a text alert system the university utilizes to warn students and staff worked as planned. The shooting occurred about noon, and the alert went out within minutes.
Purdue University sent the following message: “Shooting reported on campus; Bldg. Electrical Engineering; avoid area; shelter in place; Check www.purdue.edu for updates.”
Cox said 25 to 30 police officers were on the scene within minutes.
“We immediately did a couple sweeps of the building,” Cox said. “Kudos to the staff and the students. They ‘sheltered in place’ and did all the right things.”
“We feel we had control of the situation, and we are encouraging students to continue about their usual business,” Sands said several hours after the shooting. “The campus is operating normally but certainly ... it’ll take some time to digest this event and understand it.”
Earlier, people on campus were directed to remain “sheltered in place,” or stay where they were, from noon until about 1:30 p.m.
At that point, an official in the Purdue Memorial Union told students they were free to move about campus with the exception of the Electrical Engineering Building, which at that time was still being searched.
Two students told the Journal & Courier they heard what sounded like two shots and saw someone who possibly had blood on his or her hands.
Nick Wieland, a sophomore, left the EE building about 2:15 p.m. with a group of students who said they were in a basement classroom adjacent to the classroom where the shooting took place.
“I heard a couple (shots) and then I heard a man scream,” Wieland said. “Then the last few kind of trailed off as I got under my desk. … (I was) just very scared. That’s what I felt the entire time.”
Four students were shuffling down North Street on their way home after they received texts from the university to avoid the area around the Electrical Engineering Building.
Zachory Stewart, 19, of Indianapolis is in his first year at Purdue.
“I wasn’t exactly expecting it to happen up here,” he said.
Ashish Mahajan, 19, who is studying computer technology, was on his way to class in the Electrical Engineering Building minutes after the shooting.
“It sounds really stupid. I mean, why would you shoot anyone, you know? They are your fellow colleagues,” Mahajan said.
Jean Morrell, a 1980 Purdue mechanical engineering graduate, is chairwoman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, which Boldt attended. She said he was a model student “who had so much to offer the world.”
Waiting to exhale: ‘SHE WAS DONE’
Courier & Journal
As his patrol car clock ticked just past 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Purdue police Officer Ryan Edwards pronounced the night uneventful so far.
A few pullovers for broken license plate lights.
A quartet of students sharing a cigar and some bottles of vodka and lemonade near the stadium.
Others skateboarding along a dark street.
In other words, a typical Friday night/Saturday morning for Edwards, a self-described night owl who enjoys the unpredictability of his 12-hour shifts.
Then, at 1:41 a.m., a 911 call came in from 302 Waldron St., the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house.
The code was for alcohol poisoning.
Such a report often can be a misnomer, Edwards said as he quickly aimed his cruiser toward Waldron.
“Typically, it means just a very drunk person,” Edwards said.
But because alcohol poisoning is potentially lethal, he’ll waste no time.
Edwards knows most fraternities by name, not by address, so as he zeroed in on the house his eyes darted, looking for house numbers.
An ambulance arrived first, and Edwards pulled up behind it.
Edwards didn’t know it yet, but the worst was about to happen.
A fraternity member stood on the porch, ready to show emergency responders inside.
He was the one who made the 911 call.
A 20-year-old pharmacy major had passed out into the arms of a friend who didn’t even know the woman’s last name.
Her gag reflex was gone; she could choke her own vomit.
Following a pair of paramedics, Edwards entered the house.
Their footsteps were loud over the wood flooring, amplified by the barren walls in the dining room.
The woman sat, slumped, at a long wooden table, a male friend beside her, his arm around her back, propping her up.
The paramedics descended on the woman.
“What’s your name?” one of them shouted at her.
There was no answer as she lapsed into unconsciousness.
The paramedics lowered the girl to the floor, sitting her upright.
They couldn’t lay her on her back.
If she wasn’t going to choke on her own vomit, they’d need gravity on their side.
Edwards’ role now was to support the paramedics.
He ran to grab equipment from the ambulance, then began gathering information, working to establish a timeline and determine if foul play was involved.
“Find out anything you can,” a paramedic called to Edwards. “Alcohol, drugs, whatever.”
Edwards stepped into the hallway, pulled out his notebook and pen and began peppering the male students with pointed questions.
He focused on the woman’s friend first.
“When did you arrive?” “Where did you come from?” “How long has she been like this?” “Probably the last hour,” the friend said.
Edwards determined that the woman stopped drinking about11:30 p.m. He was told she’d had seven to eight glasses of wine.
Whether that was the truth, or how big those glasses were, Edwards couldn’t know.
Edwards relayed the information to the paramedics.
Two firefighters rushed in and dumped more medical equipment on the table.
The woman started vomiting again, but she did not appear to be breathing.
Paramedics swept her mouth with a suction device, clearing the vomit.
Another layer had caked the front of her shirt.
Quickly, the medics guided a tube down her throat, attached the bag and started breathing for her.
In the hallway, some men sat on the stairs.
Others stood, unsure what to do.
They looked tired and scared.
Edwards continued with the questions.
Then the police officer paused.
“That was a good call, you guys,” Edwards said of their decision to call 911for help.
One of the young men shook his head.
“I’ve never seen someone go from that – she wasn’t clammy. She was breathing fine. All of the sudden, it snapped. She seemed fine right up until ...”
The paramedics loaded the woman onto a stretcher and then rolled her toward the ambulance, which headed for St. Elizabeth East.
Edwards watched from the entryway.
He continued his questioning to establish her identity; the girl had no ID.
But once the woman was safely in the hands of paramedics, the police officer’s job was completed.
“When we get dispatched to an alcohol poisoning, it’s usually just a very drunk person,” Edwards said.
“This was alcohol poisoning. You could see by her color – she was done.”
By Monday morning, the woman had been released from the hospital.
When contacted days later, she declined to be interviewed.
D5 – Cat. 03
Sperry-Foutch traffic fatality: Edgewood officer arrested after fatal crash
The Herald Bulletin (Anderson)
A man was killed, a pregnant woman was airlifted to a hospital by medical helicopter, and an Edgewood police officer faces felony charges in connection with the traffic accident between Lapel and Anderson on Sunday afternoon.
According to a press release from Madison County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Brian Bell, the accident happened about 12:30 p.m. and involved two vehicles heading west in the 7500 block of West Indiana 32.
Investigators believe that a 1996 blue Buick Century driven by 22-year-old Rebecca Marie Sperry of Pendleton was struck from behind by a 2004 GMC Yukon SUV driven by 41-year-old James D. Foutch of Anderson.
According to the release and witnesses, the impact of the hit forced the Buick off the road and into a nearby utility pole.
The force from the vehicle snapped the utility pole in half and brought power lines down onto the vehicle.
Representatives from Duke Energy were called out to assist with the damaged lines.
Jesse Sperry, 23, Rebecca’s husband, was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m.
by Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay.
An autopsy will be performed today.
Foutch is an officer with the Edgewood Police Department and was off-duty at the time of the accident.
About 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Foutch was arrested and booked into the Madison County Jail in a warrantless arrest.
According to Bell, Foutch faces a charge of driving while intoxicated causing death, a Class B felony.
Investigators believe Foutch had prescription pills in his system, but neither Bell nor Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson was able to elaborate on what substance was involved.
Authorities have put a 72-hour hold on Foutch’s charges as investigators gather more information.
Rescue crews from Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Lapel Police Department, Edgewood Police Department, Lapel Fire Department, Lapel Ambulance, Edgewood Fire Department, Edgewood Ambulance and Seals Ambulance also assisted and helped to extricate Sperry from the badly damaged vehicle.
Wayne Pinkerton, who lives in a house right next to where the accident occurred, said he was working in his home when he heard the unmistakable sound of an accident outside.
He rushed over to the crumpled vehicle and immediately tried to offer aid.
“It was pretty clear, immediately, that the man wasn’t going to make it,” Pinkerton said.
“The woman was very pregnant, but she was awake and conscious and alert. I know they lifelined her out.”
A Stat-Flight medical helicopter transported Sperry to St. Vincent Indianapolis.
According to the release, the woman had serious injuries.
No information about the woman’s unborn child was available.
A woman claiming to be a family friend of Sperry contacted The Herald Bulletin and said Sperry was nine months pregnant, and that Sunday was her due date.
That information was confirmed by Richardson.
Foutch was not injured in the accident, but was taken to St. Vincent Hospital Anderson for a blood draw.
A passenger in the Yukon, 24-year-old Erica E. Manis of Anderson, complained of pain and was also transported to St. Vincent Anderson for treatment.
The tract of the road was closed to traffic for almost six hours on Sunday while teams investigated.
Madison County Emergency Management announced at 4:30 p.m. that it had turned over control to Duke Energy, which required the road to be closed for about two more hours.
D5 – Cat. 04
MS can’t take away his dad’s sense of humor
Thomas St. Myer
The Star Press (Muncie)
I always ask the question even though I already know the answer.
Every time I see my dad, James St. Myer, I ask, “How are you feeling?” His answer is always the same and yet it is always jarring.
“I’m getting worse, but that’s what the doctors told me would happen,” he says.
Without fail, he then says, “It could be a lot worse. I go for my treatments and I see people in there dying of cancer.”
Yes, it could be worse.
But it’s hard for me to accept that.
See, my dad has primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).
He was diagnosed in 2003. It’s severe and there’s no cure.
The disease has crippled him physically. He is relegated to a wheelchair.
My mom called me once to help her get him in his wheelchair after he fell in a bathroom they invested thousands of dollars in to make handicap accessible.
I nearly bawled my eyes out at the sight of him lying there helplessly.
I literally had to bite my lip to hold back the tears.
The next fall could be his last. That’s a thought I can’t shake.
I despise MS.
I despise it with every fiber of my being for what it’s done to a man I idolized long before I understood what that word meant.
My dad isn’t my biological father, but he’s my dad in every way that counts.
He adopted me at age 2 and raised me as his own, even though I’m the spitting image of my biological father, a man he loathes.
My dad’s a former police officer that taught me the difference between right and wrong, who gave me every opportunity possible to succeed.
He was the best man at my wedding, and that was the easiest choice I’ve ever made.
Sadly, when I recall my wedding, my dad is as much in my thoughts as my wife, Kara.
That’s when it hit me just how much he had deteriorated physically and to a lesser extent mentally.
I was living in Palm Springs, Calif., when Kara and I came back to her hometown of Huntington, Ind., to be married in November of 2004.
I had only spent a couple of days with him in the previous two years, so I had no idea how much MS had impacted his coordination and his memory.
He was staggering as if he were drunk when he walked, and he asked the same question or brought up the same topic in conversation every few minutes.
I felt horrible for him then, and now nine years later, I wish more than anything he was still in that good of shape.
About two years after our marriage, Kara and I returned to visit family for the holidays.
By that time, my dad was a shell of his former self, and Kara and I decided before we left for Palm Springs that it was time to move back home.
I pictured us living in Southern California the rest of our lives.
It was beautiful weather, beautiful scenery and I was covering college and pro sports.
What’s not to love about that? The absence of family, that’s what.
I wish I could say things have improved for my dad and the rest of my family since Kara and I returned in 2007.
That would be a lie.
For some reason, I pictured myself riding in like a knight on a white stallion and saving my family. Instead, it’s my mom, God bless her, who’s been our rock.
My greatest fear is she’ll pass away first and the family will crumble around her grave.
I feel like a stranger in my own parents’ house.
I’m never sure what to say, and I feel guilty that I don’t do more to help my mom take care of him.
My dad is by himself on weekdays when my mom is at work.
It’s as if he’s on house arrest.
He sits on the couch watching his favorite TV shows, CSI, NCIS and the sort, counting down the minutes until my mom gets home.
He jokes that he can watch the same episodes over and over because he can’t remember any of them.
He at least still has his sense of humor.
MS hasn’t taken that away from him.
How he manages to stay positive through all of this is beyond me.
I certainly haven’t.
When people ask me how my dad’s doing, I usually bite my lip for a split second and then say, “He’s getting worse, but that’s what the doctors told him would happen.”
D5 – Cat. 05
Bullying of Ritz must stop
Tribune-Star (Terre Haute)
A kid outside the popular clique impresses so many classmates – especially those belittled by the in-crowd – that she wins the election for class president. Irked by her encroachment into their hallway hierarchy, the preppies shun her. They snub her idea for school spirit rallies. They plan their own homecoming bonfire to compete with the traditional one she’ll preside over. She arranges a wear-our-school-colors day for Fridays; they wear them on Thursdays.
You have to wonder how a school principal or counselor would handle such behavior. What word would they use to describe such disrespect?
Someone within the leadership of the majority party ruling Indiana government should step up and be the metaphorical football team captain who breaks ranks with the clique and shows up at the class president’s bonfire. A Republican in a power position at the Statehouse should stand beside Glenda Ritz and affirm her authority to perform the duties of state superintendent of public instruction – the full duties of that job, just as an overwhelming number of Hoosiers elected her to do last November.
Since taking office in January, Ritz has seen her office’s powers usurped and circumvented by an ideological circle ruling Indiana government still stung by her surprising electoral defeat of Republican former state superintendent Tony Bennett. Though Ritz was a lifelong Republican, the veteran teacher ran as a Democrat to challenge Bennett, a national star of the school-reform movement. Though outspent by a 10-to-1 margin, Ritz received more than 1.3 million votes. Ritz polled more votes for superintendent than Mike Pence, a former Republican congressman, did in his narrow victory in the governor’s race.
The most powerful of Bennett’s allies have yet to accept that outcome. Their rejection of Ritz’s authority has reached a level of incivility beyond any in recent memory within the state education structure.
Last spring, Pence and aligned GOP legislators essentially created a second state education department to go around Ritz. They shifted $5 million for staffing the State Board of Education from Ritz’s office to the governor’s, setting up a new career-training and education agency which Pence unveiled in August. A more overt attempt by Bennett backers in the Legislature to dilute Ritz’s role by overhauling the State Board and the Indiana Education Roundtable was appropriately stopped in the 2013 General Assembly session.
The shunning continues, though. Last month, one of the 10 members of the State Board – all appointed by either former Gov. Mitch Daniels or Pence – established a strategy planning committee to lead the board and determine priorities for the next three years. The new strategy panel is backed by all of the State Board members, except Ritz, who holds the chairperson’s seat as superintendent. By contrast, Ritz was backed by 1.3 million Hoosier voters.
Ritz campaigned hard in opposition to limits on teachers’ collective bargaining, private-school vouchers and the A-F school rating system pushed by Bennett, Daniels, national reformists and like-minded state lawmakers. Yet, since her term began, she has gone to great lengths to collaborate with those of opposing viewpoints. A solid core still refuses to work with her. Unless someone intercedes, the childish, detrimental tactics will continue, especially in the upcoming 2014 legislative session.
“I just think there will probably be things coming through the legislative process that will try to diminish my power as superintendent,” Ritz told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “They could include removing me as chair of the board; they could include overseeing more of my budget; they could include overseeing of data.”
D5 – Cat. 06
Randy McClain & Boris Ladwig
The Republic (Columbus)
Cummins plans to build a new light-duty diesel engine in Columbus, starting with a new global partner, Nissan, which will use the product in its next-generation Titan pickup.
Cummins already has begun to add employees but will ramp up production next year, ultimately hoping to add as many as 500 jobs, more than doubling Columbus Engine Plant’s current workforce of 300.
The company said it will deliver the first new engines in the fourth quarter of 2014 to customers who will use the engine to power commercial vehicles, including buses, vans and light trucks.
Cummins and Nissan formed the partnership to allow both companies to make inroads into the light-duty pickup market’s diesel segment, in which they currently have no product.
The 5-liter V8 engine would have an output of more than 300 horsepower and at least 500 pound-feet of torque, according to Cummins.
In comparison, the 6.7-liter medium-duty engine Cummins makes for the Ram trucks generates in excess of 350 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Linebarger said Tuesday that some consumers have shied away from larger diesel trucks because of the higher price and because they do not need the power, he said.
Cummins believes, however, that a segment of the truck-buying population will opt for a lighter dieselpowered truck because of the better reliability and fuel economy.
Linebarger said that the new engine will provide dependability and a balance of power, performance and fuel economy, which could be appealing to buyers of pickups to delivery truck drivers and contractors loading materials into the back of their vans or pickups.
“It is a big day for everyone here,” Linebarger said, as he stood on a small podium on the second floor of the engine plant, large windows behind him showing the machinery on the production floor.
The number of new positions and ultimate economic impact will depend upon the diesel-powered Titan’s popularity.
Wages for new employees will be comparable to other plants and start at $11 to $12 per hour, said Jeff Caldwell, general manager of the company’s pickup business.