Trouble apparently brewed between two Indiana area men for some time before one shot the other early Thursday in a housing complex parking lot.
Shooting victim Hayden Warmke, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania student, was listed in fair condition this morning at a Johnstown hospital, and the suspected gunman, Eagan Minich, of White Township, remained at large at press time.
State police said Minich, 29, and Warmke arrived at the Maple Town Homes at 565 Maple St. in separate vehicles a few minutes after 2 a.m. Thursday, that Minich approached Warmke and repeatedly punched his face, then shot Warmke in the leg after he fell to the ground.
As investigators pieced together the incident in the following hours, troopers initially suspected that “road rage” fueled to the confrontation. An unidentified person who rode with Warmke from downtown Indiana to Maple Street told troopers that a motorist following them apparently became annoyed at a delay in their travel on Philadelphia Street at Seventh Street.
The irate motorist trailed them to Maple Street, emerged from a silver Lincoln MKZ sedan, then assaulted Warmke, according to initial reports.
In a criminal complaint filed in Indiana District Court, investigators wrote that a passenger riding with Minich came forward about 3:45 p.m. with his account of the events.
Matthew Charles Scott, whose hometown was not provided by police, told investigators he accompanied Minich at two downtown Indiana taverns and left with him because he needed a ride.
“We followed a vehicle through town, I really (do) not remember why, but Eagan was mad at something,” Scott told police.
When the vehicles pulled into the townhouse complex, Scott told police, Minich exited and punched Warmke, continuing to pummel him after he fell on the pavement.
“I got out of the vehicle in an attempt to stop the assault,” Scott told police. “Eagan then pulled out a gun and shot him. Eagan ran to the car, and as he was running he yelled, ‘If you say anything I will kill you.’”
Scott told police that Minich drove away without him, and that he left on foot moments later and met up with Minich, who again threatened him to remain silent.
Warmke, a criminology major from Hollidaysburg, Blair County, according to IUP officials, was sent by medical helicopter to Memorial Medical Center for treatment of his wound.
Indiana District Court Judge Guy Haberl issued an arrest warrant for Minich. The suspect has brown hair and brown eyes, weighs about 170 pounds and stands about 5-feet-10, according to police.
Troopers reported Minich last was seen driving a silver Lincoln MKZ sedan with a sun roof and aluminum wheels that appeared to be clean and in good condition.
Police wrote in the charging documents that surveillance video recordings at Maple Town Homes seemed to match up with Scott’s description of what happened. After reviewing the video early in the day, police had put out a public appeal for the passenger in Minich’s car to come forward.
Investigators said the witness, Scott, wasn’t considered a suspect in the incident.