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UPDATE: Man released from hospital after exchanging gunfire with New Albany police

Two people were hospitalized Tuesday after investigators say a man shot a New Albany police officer while being pursued. Investigators say the officer returned fire, hitting the man.
Aprile Rickert
Two people were hospitalized Tuesday after investigators say a man shot a New Albany police officer while being pursued. Investigators say the officer returned fire, hitting the man.

A man accused of shooting and being shot by a New Albany officer during a pursuit Tuesday was released from the hospital. The officer remained in fair condition as of Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said Barry Sowders, 29, was booked into the downtown Louisville jail Tuesday after being treated for gunshot wounds sustained during the exchange with police. He’ll be extradited to Floyd County and is facing three attempted murder charges, although online court records did not yet show formal charges as of Wednesday afternoon.

New Albany Cpl. Andrew Byrne remains in fair condition, said New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey.

Indiana State Police spokesperson ISP Sgt. Carey Huls said Wednesday investigators believe that Byrne acted appropriately.

“He unfortunately had to act and do what he did but that was in defense of his own life. We’re just happy that he wasn’t injured worse than he is,”he said. “We’re also glad that the suspect was not injured worse than he is and that he will make a full recovery.”

ISP is investigating the shootings at the request of the New Albany Police Department. Huls said and said the incident started when a woman reported being shot at Tuesday morning on Green Street in New Albany. No one was injured in that incident, but police began looking for Sowders.

Around 11:30 a.m., police found Sowders in his car on Grant Street and saw he had a gun when he got out. When they tried to detain him, Sowders ran, firing at two officers and hitting Byrne, who returned fire and hit Sowders, investigators said. They said Sowders continued to run and shot at another officer. They found him around 12:30 p.m. hiding on a porch on Market Street near where the shooting happened and took him to the hospital.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said in a post on social media Tuesday afternoon that he had talked with Byrne and that the officer “is in good spirits.”

Gahan commended Byrne for his bravery, and thanked the New Albany Police Department and other agencies who supported the response.

“All across the country, this type of violence is occurring more and more frequently,” he said. “Our city's recent investments in new police equipment, facilities and training are more important now than ever.”

The City of New Albany posted on social media around noon Tuesday that there was an “armed and dangerous” man in the area between Main, Spring, 13th and Vincennes streets. They asked people to avoid the area and to call 911 if they saw the man.

Resident Gordon Tretter, a retired United States Navy medic, said he was watching TV around 11:40 a.m. that morning when he heard gunshots outside his home on East 14th Street.

“I immediately ran towards a scenario because I knew there was a good chance that someone would need aid,” he said.

Tretter said as soon as he got outside he saw a uniformed officer down.

Tretter said he’s never seen anything like this happen in the six years he’s lived in the area.

“This is totally out of the blue,” he said. “This is typically a very quiet neighborhood. Most of the neighbors in the immediate area are really, really gentle, gracious people.”

ISP’s investigation includes interviewing witnesses and reviewing nearby surveillance cameras. The New Albany Police Department has been working toward implementing a body camera program, but Chief Bailey said Wednesday officers are still training on the equipment and they have not been deployed.

He said the department will review the state police investigation to determine what comes next, but said he believes standard operating procedures were followed and that the officers acted appropriately.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.