Hit-and-run accident in Greenwood turns into hours-long standoff

A Greenwood man is accused of beating a man during a hit-and-run accident and threatening to kill officers during a nearly five-hour standoff last week.

William Douglas Rees, 61, is charged with two counts of intimidation as a Level 5 felony and one count of intimidation as a Level 6 felony for the incidents that occurred on Greenwood’s east side Wednesday. He was arrested on Wednesday and was later released after paying bail.

The chain of events began around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when Greenwood Police responded to a hit-and-run accident. A man said they had been brake-checked by a yellow sports car, and that the driver allegedly pulled a gun on him and hit him a few times. The driver was later identified as Rees, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday in Johnson Superior Court 2.

The man told police that they had been driving east on Main Street when the yellow sports car in front of him pulled into a right-turn lane near Commerce Parkway East Drive. The caller continued past the sports car, which went back onto Main Street and began to follow him closely, according to the affidavit.

The caller turned into the Homecoming neighborhood and said the sports car continued to drive aggressively and tried to pass him. Along Dietz Drive, the sports car passed the man, merged in front of him and slammed on the brakes — causing the man to collide with the yellow sports car, the affidavit shows.

After exiting his vehicle to exchange information, the man exited the car and Rees came toward him yelling. Rees reportedly shoved the man, who put his hands up, and a gun fell to the ground. He allegedly picked up the gun and pointed it at the caller, telling them to “get on the ground,” the affidavit says.

Police say the man bent over to get down but was not completely on the ground when Rees reportedly struck him in the back of the head. While the man was unsure whether it was a gun or a fist that hit him, but later, Rees reportedly hit him with his fists a few times, according to the affidavit.

Other people began to stop at the scene and Rees reportedly then fled the scene. The man said he felt “scared and helpless” because Rees had a gun pointed at him, and that he complied with Rees’ requests because he was afraid of getting shot, the affidavit shows.

Parts of the incident were recorded on cameras. Ring doorbell camera footage showed the initial argument and the man being shoved onto the ground. It also showed Rees reportedly picking up the gun, pointing at the man and striking him, the affidavit said.

Police went to the 1000 block of N. Combs Road to speak with Rees. He reportedly refused and later went inside the home, grabbed a shotgun and pointed it at officers. They took cover and Rees allegedly threatened to shoot officers. A SWAT team was later called, according to the affidavit.

An officer spoke with Rees over the phone, and the officer reported Rees sounded intoxicated. He also reportedly made comments that he wanted to harm himself, police say.

Officers also noticed a woman who was standing in the garage and later got her away from the home. Rees repeatedly asked for the woman to come back into the home, and when an officer said it couldn’t happen, he reportedly told them to shut up, according to the affidavit.

At one point during the conversations with an officer, Rees reportedly agreed to come out and speak with them. However, he later changed his mind, and requested a different negotiator by referencing two other law enforcement officers by name, the affidavit said.

During the officer’s conversations with Rees before the SWAT team arrived, he reportedly made several statements of racial bias toward people of Middle Eastern or Asian descent. He allegedly referred to the man he brake-checked as an ethnic slur for people of Arab descent, and also made several derogatory statements toward the “foreigners” who live east of Interstate 65 in Greenwood, the affidavit said.

Although the race of the man Rees reportedly brake-checked is not listed, his surname’s origin is Indian.

Police say Rees did not show any remorse about the incident and also reportedly made a statement about grabbing the other party involved by the throat.

After the SWAT team arrived, officers spoke with Rees several times over the phone. He allegedly made several threats toward officers and was upset about their presence, according to the affidavit.

Police say threats included Rees saying if officers entered the home there would be “multiple deaths;” telling negotiators in a threatening way about how much he wanted them to leave that they had “five seconds” before he abruptly hung up.

Referring to officers, he also said, “If they try to arrest me they will get a hole in the head.”

Eventually, the phone’s battery died, and negotiators had to use an armored vehicle to talk to Rees via a PA and face-to-face, the affidavit shows.

After nearly five hours of negotiations with Greenwood Police and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Rees surrendered at about 6 a.m. Thursday. Officers later searched the home, finding the car believed to be involved in the hit and run, ammunition and multiple firearms — including the handgun reportedly used in the battery and the shotgun officers had observed earlier, according to the affidavit.

The same day charges were filed, prosecutors petitioned to initiate Indiana’s Red Flag Law in response to the circumstances outlined in the criminal affidavit.

Under the red flag law, also known as the Jake Laird Law in Indiana, police may seize guns from a person who is mentally unstable and a danger to themselves or others. To demonstrate that a person is dangerous, prosecutors have to show that the person presents an imminent or future risk of personal injury to them self or another individual, and has a mental illness or documented propensity for violence, said Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner.

The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office has filed about 12 red flag petitions this year — including this one. These filings are not everyday occurrences, Hamner said.

“When we’re notified by family members or police that someone is behaving in a dangerous or erratic manner such as the use or threatened use of a firearm, such a petition is appropriate,” he said.

Rees was determined to be dangerous under Indiana law by Johnson Superior Court 3 Judge Douglas Cummins on Friday, following testimony and evidence provided by prosecutors and police. Cummins is acting as a special judge for both the red flag and criminal cases as Johnson Superior Court 2 Judge Peter Nugent has recused himself due to the possibility of a conflict, filings show.

Cummin’s order will allow police to retain custody of the firearms until a judge’s further order, make sure Rees cannot purchase others and make sure he doesn’t otherwise receive or own a firearm.

An initial hearing in the criminal matter has not yet been set. A subsequent hearing on the red flag action is set for Oct. 23.