Griffith Police and Fire Departments responded to the report of a house fire in the 200 block of N Jay St at about 2:00PM on Tuesday, December 17th. Upon the arrival of initial police and fire personnel, the house was found to already be burning through the roof. Upon assessing the conditions of the fire, no entry into the residence by the lone firefighter was initially made until adequate personnel and equipment were on scene. Personnel on scene were also warned of a male resident wanted on a warrant and possibly armed, but his presence at the scene was unknown according to Commander Keith Martin of The Griffith Police.
Due to officers’ prior knowledge of an ongoing volatile situation of a male resident of the home, phone contact was made with the male’s wife, also a resident, who stated that she was not at the home and nobody should be in the home with the exception of pets, Martin said in the release.
As the fire department was about to make entry into the home, one of the police officers securing the rear of the scene heard what he described as a vehicle running inside the rear detached garage. There was no visual access to the inside of the locked garage. Due to the nearby fire and other resident circumstances, officers forced themselves into the garage and found an SUV running inside and exhaust present throughout the building. Engine oil covered the garage floor (it was later found that the oil drain plug had been removed). Officers could also now see a male subject in the driver seat of the SUV and upon closer inspection found that the subject had suffered what appeared to be a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head with a handgun in his grasp. Due to the possibility of the subject still being treatable, officers removed the subject, identified as resident Brian Taylor (age 44); from the vehicle despite the officer’s exposure to the dense exhaust smoke. They then moved him outside of the garage where ambulance personnel began to treat him and ultimately transported him to Methodist Northlake Hospital in Gary, IN. He was later airlifted to the University of Chicago and eventually succumbed to his injury at approx 4:00AM on December 18th. One of the several Griffith Police Officers that entered the smoke filled garage had to be evaluated by medical personnel on scene but did not require transport to the hospital.
The Griffith Fire Department, with the assistance of fire departments from Gary, Highland, Merrillville, and Lake Ridge, knocked down the fire without incident but the house suffered severe damage. The deceased bodies of four dogs were recovered from the home as well. It did not appear that any other damage was caused to area homes or property. Given the findings of the subject located in the garage, as well as observations of a suspicious nature by firefighters fighting the fire, the Indiana State Fire Marshall responded to investigate. A certified fire investigation K-9 also responded to the scene from Indianapolis to assist. This investigation is still ongoing, Commander Martin stated.
On December 13th, 2019, the female resident made a police report with the Griffith Police stating that Taylor was currently assigned to, and housed at, Kimbrough Corrections Center in Crown Point, IN. After being allowed to take him to a dentist appointment, they went to their residence and Taylor told her that he wanted to run an errand and did not want her to accompany him. She stated in the report that Taylor continued to tell her that he did not want to return to jail or Kimbrough. Taylor left with the vehicle and she became concerned as he was not returning, and upon checking, found her purse previously left in the vehicle, now on the garage floor. The woman now checked the house and found that Taylor’s handgun was missing from the residence as well. She began to search the area for Taylor to no avail and ultimately contacted Kimbrough Center to report him missing. She stated that Kimbrough informed her that the time he was supposed to return to Kimbrough was different than the time he informed her. Also listed in the report was that Taylor had said to his mother in the past that he would not go back to jail and would kill himself or make the police shoot him. Griffith Police checked area locations of where he could possibly frequent and put out a message to area police departments to be on the lookout for Taylor who was now believed to be armed.
On December 16th, Griffith Police learned that Taylor had called the woman on December 15th from a blocked number and told her that she could pick up the vehicle at a location in Demotte, and that he was going to turn himself in to police on December 16th. However, he failed to do so. She picked up the vehicle in Demotte, IN while escorted by police. Due to his failure to turn himself in and now believed to possibly be traveling, another “officer safety” and “be on the lookout” message was sent to police departments in a broader area.
Taylor was not located until the incident at his residence on December 18th. Police are still investigating the fire as well as any connection between the shooting and past police reports involving Taylor, or at his residence.
Anyone with information related to this situation is encouraged to contact Detective John Mowery at the Griffith Police Department at 219-924-7503 ext 256 or the Griffith Police Anonymous Tip Hotline at 219-922-3085.