Shelby  County  Indiana
Newspaper  Articles


The  Shelbyville  News
Saturday, August 9, 1980
Page 1 and 2
Victim Had Wounded His Neighbor
by Mark Pawlosky
          William Clarence Crisp,  84, holed up in his Franklin Street apartment with a .22-caliber rifle, exchanged a volley of shots with city and state police late Friday afternoon before he was mortally wounded by officers.  Crisp died shortly after the shooting at Major Hospital.  Lee Fisher,  county coroner, said today after Crisp's autopsy that a slug fired from a .357-caliber handgun entered the lower chest area and caused severe damage to the victim's liver and kidney before exiting from the back.
          Crisp also took a full blast in the left side from a riot shotgun, removing part of his nose and causing his left lung to collapse, Fisher said.  "It's hard to tell if he was shot more than once with the shotgun because of all the pellets," the coroner said.  "Either of the two shots could have been the fatal wound.  It's strange and it doesn't happen often, but either one could have been fatal."  Fisher, who said  Dr. Jerry Stransky  from the Community Hospital conducted the autopsy, added there was "massive internal bleeding" from the liver wound sustained by Crisp.
          Officers had been summoned to the scene after Crisp shot his neighbor,  Sylvester Hitch,  53, in the left hand, said  Asst. Shelbyville Police Chief Russell Mason  today.  Mason did not know what provoked Crisp to shoot Hitch in the first place.  Hitch has been admitted at Major Hospital.
          State Trooper Jeff Hammond  and  Patrolman Jim Stephens  were the first officers to arrive at the dilapidated, musty-smelling apartment building on the northwest corner of the intersection of N. Harrison and Franklin streets.  State Police Lt. Richard Jones  and  ity Det. Lt. Mike Dagley  showed up seconds later, Mason said.  The officers had been alerted about Crisp by  Kathy Fritz,  who ran to police headquarters and blurted out "someone has been shot."  The woman, apparently shaken by the incident, could not tell officers how to get to the building.  Instead, she had to ride with the officers, pointing down the streets to turn on.  The woman, who lives on N. Pike Street, and another man were in Hitch's apartment when the shooting of Hitch took place, officers said.
          The officers first tried to get Hitch out of his apartment, which adjoins Crisp's upstairs (second-floor) four-room flat.  However, Crisp started yelling through the closed door of his apartment, Mason said, and the officers then turned their attention to him.  According to Mason, the officers knew that it was Crisp in the room because during their efforts to persuade him to give up, one of the officers called out Crisp's first name.
          By this time, two other city officers-- Patrolmen Mike Shaw  and  Jim Casey -- had arrived, Mason said.  Dagley, Shaw and Jones were in the east-west hall and Hammond (who lives in Shelbyville), Casey and Stephens, in the north-south hall, said Lt. Jones, also spokesman for the Indiana State Police.  The officers spent several minutes trying to talk Crisp out.  The only response they received was "some incoherent muttering," Mason said.  The officers stood silent for a moment in the arms-width hall before Crisp let out another shouting outburst followed by six shots fired rapidly   [page 2]   behind his closed door, based on what reporters could hear from hallway.
          "We did everything possible to talk him out," Jones recalled.
          Inside Crisp's meagerly furnished apartment are six apparent bullet holes in a closet door on the north side of the room.  Also, the south wall, which adjoins the door leading out of the room, is peppered with what appear to be more bullet holes.  After the six shots were fired, officers kicked in the door and the opaque glass in the top part broke.  Reporters then heard several shots, which rang through the narrow hallways, apparently fired by the officers.  Crisp then exited the room and turned his rifle on Trooper Hammond.
          "A slug passed so close to Trooper Hammond's head that it was not a hand's width away from striking him," Jones recalled.  The officers then opened up, and one was heard to say "he's (Crisp) down."  None of the officers was struck in the exchange.
Contributed by Phyllis Fleming and  Betty Kitchen

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