Update posted at 1:19 p.m.:
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A person of interest in a shooting in northern Dearborn County has become a suspect charged with attempted murder and other felonies.
Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard was joined by other local law enforcement in announcing that William J. Gajdik was arrested Tuesday night at a Fergus Fall, Minnesota hotel.
Gajdik, 38, had been on the lam since he escaped from a low security prison in Nebraska on July 29. He was able to lay low until September 6 when he allegedly burglarized a home on North Dearborn Road in Bright, showing a gun he took from that residence and running off into nearby woods when confronted by the homeowner
A manhunt ensued in the area until later that day, when a man, identified in a court affidavit as Robert Tibbits, arrived at his home on Ruth Avenue in Logan Township – within a mile of the first burglary – and was shot, allegedly by Gajdik.
“The shooting victim is still in the hospital,” Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard said Wednesday during a press conference. “He’s been in the hospital since September 6. He’s been horribly affected by the actions of Mr. Gajdik and we intend to hold him accountable.”
Gajdik is said to have then taken off in Tibbits’ 1999 black Ford Thunderbird, managing to slip out of the area despite police swarming.
There was no sign of Gajdik for a few weeks. On September 12 he test drove a car in Bettendorf, Iowa but kept the car. Police would find the stolen Thunderbird at a Target store six miles away from the car dealership.
The task of evading the long arm of the law continued for Gajdik. Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit detective Shane McHenry had been using data from pawn shops to track his movement. Gajdik had been trading in some of the property he stole in various burglaries.
This week, McHenry found that Gajdik was in the Fargo, North Dakota area using the pawn shop data. McHenry contacted the Fargo Police Department, who put the word out to local hotels to watch for Gajdik.
Gajdik made a critical mistake when he used his own identification to check into a hotel in nearby Fergus Falls.
“He stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and there were several plain clothes officers waiting to greet him,” McHenry said, adding Gajdik surrendered without incident.
With the arrest, the prosecutor filed charges Wednesday accusing Gajdik of Attempted Murder (Class A felony), Burglary (Class A felony), Robbery Causing Serious Bodily Injury (Class A felony), a second county of Burglary (Class B felony), Robbery with a Deadly Weapon (Class B felony), and Auto Theft (Class D felony).
If convicted on all those charges, Gajdik faces up to 93 years in prison.
“We intend to seek the maximum penalty under the law for the crimes Gajdik committed,” Negangard said.
McHenry and Negangard were unsure when Gajdik could be extradited to Indiana to face the Dearborn County charges. He is also likely to be charged in Nebraska for the escape and in Iowa for stealing a car from the dealership in Bettendorf.
Original story posted at 9:11 a.m.:
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – An escaped inmate who may be responsible for a shooting in Dearborn County has been apprehended by police in Minnesota.
William J. Gajdik was identified as a person of interest by the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit in the September 6 burglaries of two homes in the Bright and Logan Township area. One of the homeowners was shot by the suspect, who fled in the victim’s car.
Gajdik, 38, was taken into custody in Minnesota according to a press release from the Dearborn County Prosecutor’s Office.
No further details of Gajdik’s capture have been released. A press conference is scheduled in Lawrenceburg at 12:30 Wednesday.
Gajdik escaped from a low security detention facility in Nebraska on July 29. Following the shooting in Bright, he was thought to be in Iowa after he allegedly stole a car from a Bettendorf dealership and left behind his drivers license earlier this month.