Indiana security guard shot and killed partner, psychiatric patient in hospital room struggle: prosecutor

An Indiana security guard killed in a hospital room shooting had told his partner to open fire as he was being choked to near unconsciousness during a struggle with a psychiatric patient, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Ryan Askew, a 59-year-old retired Lake County Sheriff’s deputy, and Jamal Williams, a 22-year-old psychiatric patient at Community Hospital in Munster, were both killed in the incident, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said in a statement.

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Askew had responded after security was alerted that Williams was threatening staff, Carter said. Williams allegedly attacked a nurse when security arrived.

“I’m told he was beating the nurse pretty badly,” Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez told the Northwest Indiana Times.

Lake County Sheriff's squad cars are parked outside of Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., Tuesday, June 16, as a fatal shooting investigation is conducted. (Lucas Gonzalez/The Times via AP)

Lake County Sheriff's squad cars are parked outside of Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., Tuesday, June 16, as a fatal shooting investigation is conducted. (Lucas Gonzalez/The Times via AP)

Askew tried to intervene but Williams, who was described by authorities as standing at 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing 300 pounds, overpowered him. An athletic department spokesperson at Western Michigan said Williams had played football at WMU.

Carter said Williams put Askew in a chokehold and lifted him off the ground while repeatedly striking him with his free hand.

Benny Freeman, another retired Lake County deputy working security at the hospital, opened fire after Askew urged Freeman to shoot while in Williams’ chokehold, Carter said. Freeman fired twice, striking Williams once in the head and killing him. A second shot struck Askew in the arm, but the bullet traveled to his chest and he died shortly after.

Authorities initially had said Williams disarmed and shot Askew before being killed by the second security guard. They later said Williams never gained control of Askew’s gun, nor fired the weapon.

The sheriff said his department was in shock, telling the paper that he knew both officers, whom he called “great guys.”

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“As a young officer myself, I trained under these guys as a rookie," Martinez said. "This is just shocking. Our whole department will be suffering from this loss."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.