The knock on the door in the middle of a rainy night seemed innocent enough: a request for help from a man and woman who said their car had wound up in a nearby ditch.
Someone at the house called police to come help them, but when the deputy town marshal responded, he was shot in the face and left bleeding as the couple fled.
A three-hour manhunt in Waterloo, Ind., about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne, ended Thursday morning just four houses away from where the shooting occurred, with the male suspect dead and the woman critically injured after a shootout with police.
"I heard police say, `Show us your hands. Come out with your hands up,'" said Melvin Miller, 69, who lives next door to where the man and woman were found hiding under a deck. "My brother-in-law said he heard someone say, `He's got a gun.' That's when I heard all the firing going on."
Miller estimated a dozen officers were in the yard at the time. Footage captured by Fort Wayne television station WPTA indicated dozens of shots were fired.
Indiana State Police said they were still trying to piece together what sparked the shooting of Deputy Marshal Stephen Brady, 47, of Pleasant Lake.
"It's unknown what the dynamic was between the three of them that led to him being shot in the face," Sgt. Ron Galaviz said. "Until we have an opportunity to speak with the woman and Deputy Marshal Brady, we really don't know. Anything is possible."
Brady had surgery and was listed in serious condition at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne.
State police identified the man involved as Ralph Daniel Hardiek, 41, of Auburn, Ind. The woman, identified as Julie Marie King, 33, of Auburn was listed in critical condition Thursday evening at an undisclosed hospital in Fort Wayne, state police said.
Noble County Prosecutor Steven Clouse said Hardiek had been scheduled to appear in court Dec. 8 on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing drug paraphernalia. Clouse said Hardiek faced 12 years under a plea agreement but failed to appear in court, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Hardiek has a criminal record in Utah dating to at least 1989, Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said. Hardiek served 11 years for possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and was paroled in 2001, but he returned to prison on a charge of mayhem from 2001 until 2004.
Gehrke said Hardiek was in and out of prison from 2004 until 2008, including a charge of walking away from a halfway house, until his release on Dec. 2, 2008.
Records show Hardiek also served time in Idaho on drug and weapons charges.
The Indiana incident Thursday began around 3 a.m., when police said Hardiek and his companion knocked on the door of a home north of Waterloo, saying their car had gone into a ditch. Galaviz said police were still trying to determine whether the pair had actually had an auto accident. No car had been found as of mid-afternoon.
Brady was shot when he encountered the couple a few blocks from the home. The manhunt for the shooters led police to a nearby house around 6 a.m., when a resident reported two people were lying under his deck, Galaviz said.
The officers ordered the suspects out and fired a stun gun at them when they refused, he said. Hardiek then rolled over and pointed a gun at officers, who fired and hit both suspects, police said.
Hardiek died at the scene from his wounds. DeKalb County Coroner Jeff Warner said an autopsy revealed Hardiek died from more than 10 gunshot wounds, including some that struck vital organs including his heart and lungs.
Galaviz said it wasn't clear whether the man fired on the officers or which one of the suspects had shot Brady.
Renata Ford, the town's clerk and treasurer, said the shootings had stunned the community of about 2,000 residents. The town has six police officers, including Brady and his wife, Sgt. Janet Brady.
"Everybody knows the police and we're all very devastated," she said. "People are outraged, devastated _ with such a small town to have something like that happen to our police."