|06-18-03: Probe continues into police shooting death of
Van Wert man with local ties
|By MARGIE WUEBKER
The Daily Standard
An investigation into the shooting death of a Van Wert man, who has
relatives residing in Mercer County, is continuing today in hopes of learning the motive.
Darren L. Welker, 40, 615 S. Tyler St., Van Wert, was shot early
Saturday morning at his residence after he reportedly opened fire on police officers who
responded to reports of a man with a gun threatening suicide.
Welker is the son of Shirley Kemper and the stepson of Joe Kemper of
Maria Stein. He also has two sisters and a grandfather residing in Mendon.
Police negotiators attempted to resolve the matter peacefully during a
two-hour standoff, but Welker failed to surrender, according to police reports.
Van Wert Police Chief Joel Hammond reportedly authorized the use of
deadly force after Welker fired at officers from inside his house. Police sniper Sgt. Kurt
Conn fired the fatal shot at 1:45 a.m., according to a press release from the Van Wert
Officers responded to the home after a woman called 911 to report a man
at the address was suicidal and had a gun. They observed Welker with a semi-automatic
pistol upon their arrival. The location from where the fatal shot was fired has not been
Welker, the father of two and a roofer in Fort Wayne, Ind., reportedly
lived at the home with his fiancee, Kelly Thomas.
An autopsy will determine whether the victim had been drinking or using
drugs at the time of the shooting.
In addition to the handgun Welker fired, police reportedly collected a
rifle, a shotgun, bullets, handcuffs, clothing and a television from his home. The 24
items are considered as evidence in the case.
Hammond generally handles internal investigations, but he stepped down
due to his involvement in the shooting. Van Wert Safety Services Director Jay Fleming will
head up the investigation.
The police chief was not available for comment this morning, with a
dispatcher noting he was in a meeting.
An obituary appears on page 5A of The Daily Standard today.
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