Shortly before he was shot and killed by police on Tuesday night, Daniel Wooters was allegedly inside TGI Fridays threatening to “kill some cops.”
Police identified Wooters, 38, on Wednesday. He was shot by three officers after he reportedly advanced toward them on Morgan Avenue with a knife after allegedly stealing a police cruiser and leading officers on a short chase across part of the city’s East Side commercial district, according to police.
Wooters was listed as homeless but has family in Carbondale, Illinois, Vanderburgh County Deputy Coroner Steve Lockyear said. An autopsy was schedule for 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The incident began at about 8:20 p.m. at TGI Fridays in Eastland Mall. Witnesses told police that Wooters acted aggressively and threatened to kill “some cops,” according to a news release.
Wooters then left the restaurant and walked to Fifth Third Bank’s parking lot. He approached an empty car in the Fifth Third parking lot where the owner, who was also in the parking lot, told Wooters to get away from his vehicle.
A uniformed officer in a marked vehicle then approached Wooters in the parking lot, and witnesses said Wooters pulled a knife out, according to police.
As the officer backed away, Wooters got into the police car and drove away, according to the release. Other officers responding to the TGI Fridays 911 calls saw Wooters driving away in the car and being pursuing, Sgt. Jason Cullum said Tuesday night.
“(The situation) went from 0 to 60 in half a second,” Cullum said.
He said Wooters somehow damaged a front axle on the cruiser and lost control near the 3300 block of East Morgan Avenue. Wooters got out of the car and advanced toward pursuing officers with a knife.
Three officers fired at Wooters and he dropped to the ground, according to police.
The officers reportedly performed CPR until medical personnel arrived. Wooters was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Wooters died of internal bleeding stemming from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, according to Vanderburgh County Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Lockyear.
The Courier & Press has filed a request for body camera footage from Tuesday night’s incident.
No officers were injured. The three officers were placed on paid administrative leave, per the Evansville Police Department policy. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone who witnessed any of the events that began at TGI Fridays around 8:20 p.m. is asked to call Evansville Police Department at 812-436-7979.
Police officers are also investigating a “suspicious circumstance” call at about 6: 40 p.m. from the Chili’s restaurant in front of Eastland Mall.
“Officers were called to the restaurant when a man came in and asked if he could leave his duffle bag on one side of the restaurant while he ate on the other side. An employee thought the man’s behavior was suspicious and they called 911,” according to the release.
Police weren’t able to locate the man and are looking into the possibility that the man at Chili’s was also Wooters.
In August, Wooters was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct. He was drinking at bar and became belligerent, according to a probable cause affidavit. He started arguing and fighting with the manager, court documents state.
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