Out-of-State Suspects Arrested Near Campus Over Winter Break

Chloe Leckrone

On Friday, Dec. 31 2021, two suspects in an out-of-state crime were apprehended just off Manchester University’s North Manchester campus. The individuals were arrested in connection with the shooting of two Illinois police officers, which left one dead and one wounded.

Tina Edwards, director of University Safety, was notified of the incident and that the individuals were suspected to be located in North Manchester at approximately 4:57 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 31 and was soon asked to come to the North Manchester Police Department (NMPD). There, Edwards, along with the NMPD, the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department and University Safety, was advised by state police that they would all play a supporting role in the federal investigation.

After Safety was contacted, President Dave McFadden was made aware of law enforcement coming to North Manchester at roughly 6 a.m. and went to campus. “We had a team in the Safety office, and we were in many ways peripheral to what was happening,” McFadden said. “It wasn’t our operation. They kept us informed about some things, but not all things. During that day, by the time I got into the office, there was a lot of sitting and waiting.

“The most emotional span of time was when law enforcement went into East Hall,” McFadden continued. “Nobody expects to have a group of law enforcement, armed, going into a residence hall.”

Because of the winter holiday, very few students were on campus; McFadden estimated between 12 and 15 students in East Hall. The majority of those students were members of the men’s basketball team. McFadden praised the immediate response from coaches during an intense situation when officers entered the dormitory. “Their coaches went out of their way to be helpful and supportive and help them process what happened,” McFadden said.

Several students came in contact with law enforcement, and two Black students were detained and questioned by officers. Although McFadden does not know the reason law enforcement gave as to why these students were detained, he expressed an understanding that their sense of safety on campus must have been disrupted. He noted that while law enforcement asked for information from those working on campus, they did not give much back, and there was no debrief afterward to go over what had happened.

“There were very few students on campus at all, and so the number of people who were directly impacted was very small,” McFadden said. “In a weird way, this didn’t feel like a campus event. It was very localized, both in terms of location, number of students who were involved or potentially impacted, and also it happened and then it went away.”

Because it was a federal investigation, law enforcement quickly came to North Manchester and left just as fast, without giving much information to town police or campus safety. McFadden later met with the men’s basketball team and those who were directly impacted by the event, and had the chance to talk with one student’s mother.

As President McFadden noted, very few students were on campus on the day of the arrest. One student, Brooklyn Schumm, was in her dorm room, but slept through the events and only learned what had happened afterward. Schumm’s partner and multiple friends were in an apartment right next to where the suspects were hiding and were woken and escorted outside by law enforcement that morning. More than anything else, Schumm expressed relief that there was no escalation of violence. “To be honest, I felt relieved that the situation didn’t end in a shooting,” Schumm said. “I was so scared when I learned of the situation that it would end with the man losing his life. I’m just glad it didn’t get that far.”

Tina Rieman, Manchester graduate and former MU employee, witnessed the arrests firsthand. A neighbor to the house the suspects were located in, Rieman had been gone for the holidays and was planning to leave her house again momentarily, with her sister on the way to meet her, when she heard sirens outside. Curtains shut, she did not realize anything was happening “until it was happening.” A police car and two SWAT vehicles were parked just outside her house, and officers were scattered about her yard with automatic weapons.

“The astonishing thing to me is that I was probably 30 feet away from the SWAT vehicle when it took its position aimed at that house, and I had no idea it was happening,” Rieman said.

Soon, residents of the house where the suspects were presumed to be were asked by the state police via megaphone to come outside with their hands up. According to Rieman, it took several minutes for them to exit the house. One of the suspects was the first to come out, and was taken into custody on Rieman’s yard. The second suspect was soon apprehended as well. “I’m really grateful to say that it all happened very peacefully as far as I could see,” Rieman said. “I never saw anyone being roughed up, I never saw any resistance.”

An hour later, when things looked relatively calm but everyone was still in place outside, Rieman asked if it was safe for her to leave her house. Several blocks of street were blocked off, but Rieman was able to leave soon after. While law enforcement could not give her any information on what had happened, the story was on the news in Fort Wayne just minutes later, and many friends and family members reached out to make sure she was okay.

On Jan. 13, President McFadden sent out an email to all students and colleagues with more specific information about what had happened that day, regarding the arrests, the student encounters with law enforcement on campus, and the Black students who were questioned. He wrote: “We aspire to be a community where all students and colleagues are safe and feel a sense of belonging. Events like this are painful setbacks and stark reminders that we are not yet where we need to be.”