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By SCOTT SMITH
Tribune staff writer
A Kokomo teen is dead, and two other juveniles face serious charges after an apparent robbery gone bad on the city’s south side early Tuesday morning.
Detectives said Nathan Marcus Paul Smith, 16, and Justin Smith, 17, Peru, were armed with a shotgun and a baseball bat, respectively, when they knocked on the door of 19 Southdowns Drive at about 12:30 a.m.
The man inside the home, Michael Slonaker, 61, came to the door armed with a handgun.
Slonaker told police the juvenile holding the shotgun raised it when he opened the door. Slonaker then fired two shots, hitting both juveniles.
Nathan Smith, a sophomore at Kokomo High School, was shot in the chest and stumbled out to the street before collapsing, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Howard County Coroner Brad Bray.
Justin Smith initially fled from the scene, but was later found at Howard Regional Health System with a gunshot wound to the knee, the detective said.
According to detectives, Justin Smith told hospital staff he had been shot and wounded on East Taylor Street in Kokomo while attempting to buy drugs. He later admitted his involvement in the shooting incident to investigators.
“We don’t believe that Nathan Smith and Justin Smith are related. It appears that they were just friends,” said Sheriff Marty Talbert. Slonaker told investigators that he was not familiar with either man.
“Slonaker is licensed to carry a firearm,” Talbert continued. “However a permit is not required to possess a handgun in your own home, or on your own property.”
A 17-year-old female who drove Justin Smith to the emergency room was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit burglary. She was transported to the Kinsey Youth Center, where she is being held on the class B felony charge.
Justin Smith was transferred to Indianapolis Methodist Hospital by Life Line Helicopter. He was scheduled to undergo surgery for his gunshot wound Tuesday. Nathan Smith’s body is scheduled to undergo an autopsy on Wednesday at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie.
Ironically, Nathan Smith was on probation with the Howard County Juvenile Probation department, but had not reported as required, according to department head Don Travis.
Nathan Smith’s probation officer, along with Smith’s mother, were out looking for him Tuesday morning, unaware he’d been killed, Travis said.
Travis, who was contacted outside the office Tuesday, said he wasn’t immediately aware of the reason for Smith’s probationary status.
The case is still under investigation, but Talbert said from initial reports, it didn’t appear likely Slonaker would face charges.
“The weapons [used by the assailants] were found lying on the ground outside the house, just like Mr. Slonaker indicated,” Talbert said. “That indicates he was put in fear for his life. Certainly if an individual showed up at my door with a shotgun, I’d protect myself.”
“We are asking anyone with information about this case to contact myself, or Detective Scott Waymire, at our investigations section, (765) 456-2031, Ext. 247,” said Detective Greg Hargrove.
Howard County Sheriff deputies were assisted at the scene by the Russiaville Police Department, Harrison Township Fire Department and EMS, and the Howard County Emergency Management Agency. The Kokomo Police Department is also assisting with the investigation.
Scott Smith may be reached at
(765) 454-8569 or via e-mail at email@example.com
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Another one Sarah Brady will chalk up as a 'child' victimized by guns...
At least there's another young criminal off of the streets. And the world isthat muchsafer now...
There are several very good quotes from Marty Talbert is this piece. It sure is great to see a police spokesman who is honest about the facts of the incident, and who did not say that the guy should have just locked himself in his bedroom and called the police.