Prosecutor: Officers ‘justified’ in killing of man holding child hostage

36-year old Joseph Schroeder was shot by police after holding a child hostage.
36-year old Joseph Schroeder was shot by police after holding a child hostage.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Allen County prosecutor will not charge the Fort Wayne Police officers who fatally shot a man who took a young child hostage in early October at his home.

In a news release early Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office wrote that the officers who shot 36-year-old Joseph S. Schroeder at a home at 5328 N. Stony Run Lane late Oct. 6 were justified in using deadly force. The release said the officers “reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to a three year old child held at knifepoint by Joseph Schroeder.”

Police were called to the home just after 11 p.m. for a reported disturbance. There, officers found Schroeder inside the home holding a child hostage, armed with a knife. A woman also inside the home was able to get out.

The first arriving officers tried to talk with Schroeder to get him out of the house, but he refused. At that time, the police department’s Crisis Response and Emergency Services teams were called.

After hours of negotiations, around 4:50 a.m. the next morning, police said Schroeder made statements over the phone that forced the hand of EST members and officers stormed the house. Inside, police said they found him standing over the child with what police described as “two large-edged weapons.”

Officers Anthony Shefferly and Cameron Morris both fired shots at him and rushed the child out of the home.

Schroeder was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he later died. The child was not hurt.

In Tuesday’s news release, the prosecutor’s office wrote that “the actions of the Fort Wayne Police Department Officers involved likely saved the life of the child.”

Police were called to the same address in July for a similar situation. Schroeder had taken a child hostage with a large knife. After 3 hours, he surrendered to police without incident. He was previously facing several felony charges due to the incident.