Posey Co. Sheriff reflects on weekend shooting involving sheriff’s deputy

$1 million cash bond set for man charged with shooting deputy
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 4:04 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 4:41 PM CDT
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POSEY CO., Ind. (WFIE) - The community along with the Posey County Sheriff’s Office is healing after last weekend’s shooting involving a deputy.

Jessica Costello sat down with Sheriff Tom Latham about what it takes to get through a tragedy like this.

“It is getting easier,” Posey County Sheriff Tom Latham said. “There’s a sense of normalcy that’s starting to set it. But about the time you start feeling better, your mind starts to go 100 miles per hour again.”

Any call the sheriff gets when he’s off the clock, he knows has to be important.

“The words that came from the dispatcher’s mouth was heart-dropping,” Sheriff Latham said. “I mean that’s the phone call as sheriff or chief or administrator within law enforcement you never want to receive. And you pray you never do receive it. The action was immediate. Once the sentence of what I was told sank in, within seconds, it was action. We’ve got to get going and we’ve got to try and get this situation resolved.”

Sheriff Latham rushed to the scene of what originally came in as a welfare check in New Harmony. He says deputies knew upon arriving, they were going to the suspect’s home and a gun was involved.

According to the affidavit, Paul Wiltshire allegedly threatened to kill his wife and shoot anyone who came to the residence.

“With a gun being involved, obviously many people are going to show up,” Sheriff Latham said. “And thank god they did.”

At the time of the shooting, Deputy Bryan Hicks was also a field training officer (FTO), and one of the four deputies who responded to the call was his training deputy.

“They had some training,” Sheriff Latham said. “They have less than a year on. Their year comes up next month. But yeah, the actions in which some of those guys took, all of them, probably did save his life.”

What makes this more difficult for the sheriff and others to handle is Wiltshire’s background. He was the town marshal in New Harmony at one time and a reserve officer in Posey County for many years.

“I feel torn as the sheriff because there was a personal relationship with that family,” Sheriff Latham said. “But you hurt one of my deputies and that, in my thoughts, that’s like hurting one of my kids, I guess. And the helpless feeling that comes along with that is unbearable.”

For everyone involved this has been a heart-shattering event, the sheriff says moving “past it” won’t be easy for most.

“A lot of times people don’t realize that, there’s a law enforcement officer, there’s an EMT, there’s a fireman that’s responding to that,” Sheriff Latham said. “The officers, the fireman and the EMS, we still have to live with that. And we can’t shut it off.”

One thing is clear for the sheriff - the whole office is missing Deputy Hicks.

“Bryan is the guy that sleeps in his uniform,” Sheriff Latham said. “I mean I’m being facetious here, but he does. He’s the guy you can call and he’s very dependable.”

So whether it’s days, months, or even years, the sheriff says this office and this community will get through this.

“By the grace of God, only by the grace of God and all glory to God, Bryan is still alive, and he is strong,” Sheriff Latham said.

A $1 million cash bond has been set for Wiltshire.

He’s the Posey County man charged with the attempted murder of Deputy Hicks.

The probable cause affidavit shows authorities were called to Wiltshire’s Short Street home, September 18, because he had threatened to kill his wife.

It shows four deputies, including Hicks, arrived at the home for a welfare check.

One of the deputies say they spotted Wiltshire through a window holding a gun, which he pointed at the deputy.

It shows Deputy Hicks approached and yelled commands to drop the gun.

One deputy says he heard shots coming from the home, a flash coming from Hicks’ gun, and then Hicks fell backwards.

The other deputies then moved to a better position, while two of them attended to Deputy Hicks. He was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

The New Harmony Town Marshal also arrived on scene, as well as some Mount Vernon Police officers.

Wiltshire was detained and treated for gunshot wounds.

The affidavit shows he was later interviewed and admitted to firing at officers, but claims he was shot at first.

It shows he said he didn’t know he hit anyone and said he was sorry more than once during the interview.

Wiltshire is now out of the hospital and in jail. His initial hearing is set for Monday at 1 p.m.

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