Officer Timothy "Jake" Laird, badge number 2479, was killed on August 18, 2004, when officers responded to numerous 911 calls from neighbors reporting gunfire in the 2700 block of Dietz Street on the near south side of Indianapolis.
The first officer responding to the scene, Officer Tim Conley, radioed to dispatch that he was under fire. Having been struck in the abdomen and leg while still in his car, Officer Conley put the car in reverse and backed-up until he hit a fence post where he was rescued by Officers Mark Fagan and Ty VanWagner and Lt. Richard Proffitt.
Amid the gunfire, and uncertain that an ambulance could safely enter the area, IFD Lt. Robert Moore, Engineer Kenneth Calvin, and Firefighters Kevin Jones and John Vaughns, of Engine Company 15, Station 15, stepped into the dangerous scene so they could transport Officer Conley to the hospital on board their fire engine.
Driving into the 2800 block of Dietz Street at 2:01 am, Officers Laird and Kim Cissell also came under fire. As Officer Laird exited his police car, he was fatally wounded when a round hit him high in the chest, above his protective vest. Officer Cissell drove Officer Laird to Troy Avenue. From there, Officer Laird was transported to Wishard Hospital where he was pronounced dead moments after arriving.
The shooter, Kenneth C. Anderson, 33, continued to walk down an alley and through the parking lot of a local church onto Tindall Street, brandishing a rifle with a large ammunition clip. Near the corner of Tindall and Gimber streets, he came upon Officers Leon Essig, Andrew Troxell, and Peter Koe. Anderson took cover behind a Jeep Cherokee and fired several rounds at the three officers. Essig was hit in the arm; Troxell in the hand; and Koe in the knee. The wounded Officer Koe, a SWAT Team member, returned fire, striking Anderson with fatal shots to the head and chest.
Homes and vehicles in the neighborhood were peppered with bullets fired by Anderson who was armed with an SKS rifle, similar to a military AK-47, a .357-caliber pistol, and a .22-caliber derringer. Koe was the only officer known to have fired his weapon. Chief of Police Jerry Barker said, "It wasn't until that final confrontation, basically face to face with the perpetrator, that firearms were fired by police."
When officers entered the home of Anderson's 66-year old mother, Alice Marie Anderson, they found that she had also been fatally shot by Anderson.
Earlier in the year, on January 20, 2004, police had been sent to 2704 S. Dietz Avenue to help paramedics with a combative patient. During that incident, police placed Anderson under immediate detention and confiscated a large quantity of weapons and ammunition. Upon release from his detention, Anderson sought return of the confiscated weapons. In the absence of legal authority to prevent the return of the weapons, the Police Department released them to Anderson in early March 2004. Following the August shooting, family and friends reported Anderson was a troubled man who suffered from schizophrenia, and who had not been taking his prescribed medication.
Officers Conley, Essig, Troxell, and Koe, all of whom wore body armor, survived their injuries.
Officer Laird was laid to rest at Crown Hill Cemetery following an emotional funeral service at St. Luke's United Methodist Church that was attended by 2,200 mourners. During the service, Chief of Police Jerry Barker retired Officer Laird's badge (2479) and his car number (C421) and posthumously awarded Officer Laird IPD's Medal of Honor and Purple Heart.
The funeral was followed by a procession of more than 500 squad cars that extended more than seven miles. Hundreds of well-wishers gathered along the route and at IPD Headquarters and South District. Seven hundred uniformed law enforcement officers and 150 family members gathered at the grave site to pay their final respects. Shifts of mourning IPD officers attending the funeral and burial were covered by officers from the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the Speedway, Lawrence, and Beech Grove Police Departments.
Officer Laird was appointed to the Police Department on March 6, 2000. He served as a patrol officer on the IPD's South District where he was known as a professional who was respected and well-liked by co-workers. After graduating from Warren Central High School in 1991, Laird joined the Marines where he served 8 years. Laird is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and 7-year old daughter.
A bronze plaque marks the spot on South Dietz where Officer Laird lost his life in service to the city. On August 18 each year, officers of the police department hold roll call at the site to honor his memory.
In addition, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86 honored Officer Laird by naming their conference room after him so officers are reminded of his legacy each time they enter the building.
In 2004, Officer Laird's parents, Michael and Debbie Laird created the Jake Laird Memorial Fund. Each year they hold an annual golf tournament as a fundraiser for various police and firefighter causes throughout the state of Indiana. As of late 2012, over $300,000 had been raised by the fund. The URL for the fund's website is http://thejakelairdmemorialtourney.org/ .
Source: Text based on a series of articles in several August 2004 issues of the Indianapolis Star and confirmed by the IPD Homicide Section. Follow-up information obtained from the 2012 Honor Book.