Terre Haute News
Indiana Central News
Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana
By Lucy Perry
Indiana Central News
Forty-two year-old Robert J. Archer lived in an apartment just across from his alleged killer. He died from a gunshot wound suffered during a dispute with Tristin G. Spencer, 22, at an apartment complex located on Terre Haute's south side last night.
Spencer, of 4275 S. Fifth ½ St. in the International Village Apartments, was booked into the Vigo County Jail just five hours after the shooting., accused of Level 2 felony voluntary manslaughter. He remains held with no bond allowed after appearing in Superior Court Div. 5 today.
Emergency crews responded to the scene within minutes and the victim was transported to a nearby hospital's emergency room --- where Archer was pronounced dead soon after arriving, according to the Vigo County Sheriff's Office.
Spencer allegedly shot Archer in the chest outside his apartment unit at 4285 S. Fifth St., at about 5 p.m. -- reportedly firing the bullet in retaliation to being attacked by the victim.
In fact, witnesses at the scene reportedly described an encounter they had with the alleged shooter --- after he returned quickly to where the victim was lying on the ground outside in the courtyard, near the victim's residence --- and allegedly admitted to the witnesses that he had shot the man, according to the probable cause affidavit, prepared by Det. Josh Carey, of the VCSO.
"The shooter told him that he shot the victim, and that he had been attacked and 'did what he had to do,'" the documents state regarding one witness's account of the incident. He then recalled how the alleged shooter, a local college student, called 911 himself to say he shot the man after the alleged attack.
The altercation between the neighbors allegedly began when the suspect had walked by the victim's apartment earlier with his dog, and although the victim did not know Spencer, he called him derogatory names and ordered him to "get out of here."
During questioning, Spencer admitted to detectives at the sheriff's office that he took his dog inside his apartment and grabbed his gun to go back outside to the courtyard area. Archer allegedly confronted him again --- physically attacking Spencer in the head several times, according to the court documents.
The victim then allegedly charged at Spencer.
"That's when Tristin [Spencer] raised his firearm and fired at the victim," the documents state. Spencer reportedly asked to speak with an attorney at this point in the interview and consulted with Scott Skillman last night.
Before Spencer went home to get his gun, the day had started off pretty well for Archer. His mood took a turn for the worse when he lost his keys, reportedly causing him to also lose his temper.
Archer had a pleasant day of shopping with his mother and getting food from a nearby fast food restaurant before getting dropped back off at his residence at International Village after riding in his mother's car.
The mother would later tell detectives that her son called her back to the apartment because he couldn't locate his keys and was frustrated. By the time she returned, he had gotten inside his apartment. However, he was still noticeably angry about the ordeal and cussing.
The suspect also returned to the scene, now armed.
The victim's mother informed detectives that the suspect walked by at this time and asked the vicitm,"Hey buddy, you got a problem?"
The victim reportedly came outside and the two exchanged words --- when the victim's mother said she caught a glimpse of a black handgun, heard a gunshot and then heard her son's cries for help.
She asked the victim why he had shot her son, as she went to apply pressure to the gunshot wound. She told detectives Spencer responded, "Because he was coming at me."
By this time, Central Dispatch received multiple calls on to report the shooting. Witnesses saw the victim in the courtyard, struggling to breathe.
"The victim was on his knees and then fell to his back," Carey explains how one witness reported what he saw, adding he said Archer was breathing, but with difficulty, just before medics arrived.
Upon Carey's arrival to the shooting scene, around 5:15 p.m., the area had already been secured by deputies on scene. He reportedly was informed by Deputy David Ewing that Archer had been shot outside that apartment unit -- and the suspect was detained in Ewing's patrol vehicle. Carey also learned the victim was dead around that time.
A short time later, he interviewed the two witnesses who reported that they had not only heard the gunshot, but happened to be near the scene and saw the victim struggling on the ground.
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News Writer: Lucy Perry