Police: Deadly shootout in northern Indiana lake neighborhood involved bounty hunters



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In this image taken on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, and released by the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department, investigators the scene in Syracuse, Ind., where police say a man was killed and two others seriously hurt by gunfire. A possible motive for the shooting wasn't immediately released. (AP Photo/Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department)


In this image taken on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, and released by the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department, investigators the scene in Syracuse, Ind., where police say a man was killed and two others seriously hurt by gunfire. A possible motive for the shooting wasn't immediately released. (AP Photo/Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department)


SYRACUSE, Indiana — Three bounty hunters became embroiled in a fatal gun battle in northern Indiana as they tried to capture a man who failed to appear in court on felony charges, police said Tuesday.

Kosciusko County sheriff's Sgt. Chad Hill said that the three men were trying to capture Gary W. Helman, 56, at his home near Lake Wawasee, when they spotted him on the back deck. That's when a gun battle erupted, fatally injuring Helman.

Police responding to a report of gunshots Monday found Helman dead in a rear bedroom of the home. Officers found Helman's twin brother, Larry D. Helman, and one of the bounty hunters, Tad Martin of Osceola, seriously wounded at the rear of the home. Both wounded men were taken to Fort Wayne hospitals. A coroner pronounced Gary Helman dead at the scene.

Conditions for the two hospitalized men were not immediately available Tuesday. There were no arrests.

Hill identified the other two bounty hunters as Daniel Foster, 43, of LaPorte; and Michael C. Thomas, 36, of Osceola. Hill said the men were carrying credentials identifying them as bounty hunters.

Helman had failed to appear on charges of resisting law enforcement and battery resulting in bodily injury.

Kevin Watkins, a bail bondsman and bounty hunter from Indianapolis, said that bounty hunters are licensed by the state and draw their authority from federal law.

Gunfights are relatively rare, Watkins said.

"Most people just come willingly," he said. "You'll find that most people just want to get it over with."

Monday's shooting was also the location of a nine-hour police standoff in April 2009.

Police said at the time that Gary Helman barricaded himself with his mother in his home about 35 miles southeast of South Bend when officers arrived to serve three misdemeanor warrants. Negotiators attempted to talk with Helman, but he was shot in the hip and leg when he pulled a handgun from his waistband as he attempted to flee.

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