WATERLOO, Ind. — 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.
But police say one of them opened fire on a deputy town marshal called to help them, leaving him bleeding from a gunshot wound to the face as they fled.
A three-hour manhunt in Waterloo, Ind., about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne, ended Thursday morning two blocks 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."
The woman, whose name had not been released by Thursday afternoon, was listed in critical condition in an undisclosed hospital. 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.
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.
Clouse said Hardiek also had a previous criminal record but would not elaborate.
The 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 was scheduled Thursday afternoon.
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."