EPD commends officers' actions at fatal shooting scene

The Evansville Police Department is commending two officers who responded to a fatal shooting on Friday evening as they too came under fire. Richard Worley allegedly opened fire on the field training officer and probationary officer as they tried to render aid to Chanda Hatt, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Worley was lying in wait when he shot and killed Hatt in front of her husband and two children. Field Training Officer Blake Hollins and probationary Officer Nathan VanCleave were the first to arrive. Once they began to tend to Hatt's ultimately grave injuries, police said Worley opened fire with a high-powered rifle. The two men then retreated to cover while they communicated with dispatch.

"Ambushes of law enforcement is something that has seen a dramatic increase in the last few years. That's what this was," said Sgt. Jason Cullum. "There was a lot of stuff going on. [The two officers] had to devise a plan to get back out and put themselves in harm's way to move the victim so she was no longer in harm's way."

VanCleave was sworn in in late January before completing his 17 weeks of training at the Southwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. VanCleave's father and brother are also on the Evansville Police Department.

Upon graduation from the academy, VanCleave began his yearlong probationary period. His field training officer, Blake Holins, has been on the department for four years.

"The [field training officers] have been in some stressful situations. They know they can work through that and their mindset is going to continue to help them. The newer officer really hasn't developed that yet. That's not something you can teach in classroom," Sgt. Cullum said. "The FTO in this case did an outstanding job and the probationary officer did an outstanding job."

Police reported finding multiple firearms and ammunition in the back of the home after Worley was taken into custody. Detectives are still trying to determine how Worley, who has a convicted felony, managed to have the guns in his possession.

"We're fortunate that neither one of the officers were injured," Sgt. Cullum said. "[VanCleave] faced down the demon just like the field training officer did. They knew when they left their cover, they were going to open themselves up to gunfire. They also knew that they had somebody laying on the ground. At that moment, they still felt like they had an opportunity to save her."

Neither officer was injured nor did they fire their weapons.
 


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