21INVESTIGATES: Red flag law could have prevented Kendallville shootout, according to law expert

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 6:44 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - 21Investigates obtained ten complaints dating back to 2021 showing the Kendallville shooter’s previous run-in with the law. An Indiana University law professor says Indiana’s red flag Law could have prevented the shootout in the first place.

Authorities identified the man as 60-year-old Michael P. Emmons of Kendallville. Police said Emmons fired “hundreds” of shots at them from a high-powered rifle in his apartment on the second floor beginning Wednesday evening. Emmons died early Thursday morning after police rushed into his Berry Lane apartment to end an hours-long standoff. Police said the man died of an injury, the extent of which was not immediately specified.

21Investigates team obtained 10 complaints from the Kendallville Police Department detailing several instances where Emmons displayed suspicious behavior, made threats to the community, trespassed on property, and was seen with several weapons. Reporter Karli VanCleave looked through the complaints with IU law professor Jody Madeira to understand if the red flag law could have applied.

“The police could of had probable cause that he was both dangerous to himself and to another individual,” she said. “And that he could get access to a firearm, and that firearm was in his possession.”

Indiana’s red flag law says once a person is deemed dangerous to themselves, or others, they cannot possess, own, rent, buy or sell a firearm. Madeira says, based on her professional opinion after reading the complaints, the police could have filed a petition to use the red flag law and prevent this situation.

Madeira says the police could have submitted the 10 complaints to the prosecutor’s office for review. Then they can file a petition to use the red flag law an receive probable cause to confiscate Emmons’ weapons. However, Madeira says he has to hand them over to police himself.

So what should you do if you see this behavior in someone? Madeira says to file a police report because it could help in preventing any future tragedies like the shootout in Kendallville.

21Investigates reached out to the Kendallville Police Department to find out if they considered using the red flag law, but our team has not been able to make contact.

Police did not immediately offer a motive for the violence but said Emmons deliberately targeted officers as they took positions around the apartment.

No officers or bystanders were hurt. Neighbors have since returned to their homes.