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Last updated: Mon. May. 20, 2013 - 05:12 pm EDT

Gives ID, opens fire on officer

Man mistaken for suspect now faces criminal counts

A man faces a preliminary charge of attempted murder after he allegedly fired gunshots at a Fort Wayne police officer responding to a domestic dispute.

Police were sent to the 3100 block of South Harrison Street to deal with the dispute shortly after 9:30 p.m. Friday, and they learned that the man involved had left the scene, said officer Jason Anthony, a city police spokesman.

While looking for that man, an officer spotted a man with a similar description in the 2800 block of South Harrison, near West Leith Street and South Calhoun Street. The officer approached him and asked for his identification, Anthony said.

“The suspect provided identification and shortly thereafter removed a firearm from his waistband and began shooting at the officer,” Anthony said. “The officer physically engaged the suspect and tackled him and took him to the ground.”

On the ground, the man, identified as Daniel Spells Jr., kept shooting the handgun, and one shot struck the hood of a passing car, Anthony said, adding that no one in the vehicle was hurt. “Ultimately, the officer was able to disarm the suspect,” he said.

The officer, who did not return fire, had Spells in handcuffs by the time backup officers arrived, Anthony said. No bullets hit the officer, but he received a cut to his hand. Police did not release the officer’s name or the number of shots fired.

Spells, 33, of the 2100 block of Asquith Drive, was being held without bail Sunday at the Allen County Jail.

Along with attempted murder, he was preliminarily charged with felony counts of criminal recklessness, carrying a handgun without a license and resisting law enforcement.

Police determined that Spells was not the man involved in the domestic dispute. Detectives interviewed Spells, but it remained unclear why he shot at the officer, Anthony said.

Spells was on parole at the time, jail officials said, and he had no warrants, according to Anthony.

Over the years, Spells has been sentenced to prison time on felony convictions in four separate Allen County cases: cocaine possession in 1999, battery in 2000, resisting law enforcement in 2007 and carrying a handgun without a license in 2010, according to the Indiana Department of Correction.

Spells’ arrest Friday had shades of the encounter that led to his cocaine possession conviction in 1999. A city police officer was looking for a runaway in the 4300 block of Lillie Street when he tried to detain Spells, who fit the runaway’s description. Spells, then 18, fled, and the officer caught him, searched him and found crack cocaine, according to Journal Gazette archives.

In 2000, Spells’ battery conviction stemmed from allegations that he punched an Allen County confinement officer in the mouth when ordered to go to his cell, archives showed.

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