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Crawford deputy stable after gunshot wound

Police unsure why officer, who was doing 'great job,' shot himself

January 16, 2013
A Crawford County deputy sheriff was in stable condition after apparently shooting himself early Friday morning.

Jesse Belcher, 26, was found shot in the head at his home along Benham Mill Road near English around 2:30 a.m. Friday. Fellow deputies Justin Ash and Glen Crawford had gone to his home after being contacted by another deputy who had talked with Belcher moments earlier.

Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Belcher
Crawford County Chief Deputy Shawn Scott said Belcher, who had ended his shift at 10 p.m., had called Jeff Howell, with whom he had worked that day, between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Belcher asked questions about his grandfather, Donald Belcher, who was sheriff in Crawford County in the late 1960s and died in 2009.

Scott said the nature of the conversation had left Howell concerned.

"So, then Jeff tried calling back and couldn't get a hold of him," he said.

Howell then got dressed to go to Belcher's house and contacted Ash and Crawford to check on him, as well. When they arrived, they found Belcher injured from a self-inflicted shot from a handgun. Scott said Belcher did not use his service weapon.

Belcher was taken by helicopter to University of Louisville Hospital, where he remained in stable condition as of Monday when he was to have surgery, Scott said.

Sheriff Tim Wilkerson, who was at the hospital on Friday, relayed that Belcher was able to communicate with doctors, Scott said, adding that it appeared the bullet missed Belcher's brain.

"That is my understanding," he said. "I guess they came out and said there was no obvious trauma to the brain."

Scott said Belcher, who lives alone, had not been acting unusual, adding he had been joking with other officers during his shift on Thursday.

He said Belcher, who was hired as a deputy in October, after working at the jail for a year and a half, had exceeded expectations.

"He was doing a great job," Scott said, noting Belcher's only other experience in law enforcement was a brief stint with the Seymour Police Department.

Belcher, a graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, was to attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in March.

Scott said deputies and jail staff are trained to handle such tragedies, but, he admitted, it still has been difficult.

"That's part of what we deal with, but then to see one of your own," he said. "Just like a family member."

Detective Phil Stowers of the Indiana State Police served as the investigating officer, with the Crawford County Sheriff's Department assisting.

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