Date: July 27, 2012, Time: 11:30 p.m.
Fortville police officer Matt Fox and his canine partner, Lannie, were working overtime. When you’re a policeman, working overtime and second and third jobs are no strangers. Lannie the patrol dog was content, peering out the back window of the patrol car. For officer Fox, it was just another evening checking for signs of aggressive or impaired drivers on his evening patrol in Hancock County. The scorching heat of the day still lingered in the evening air as he drove through the normally quiet area.
Little did Fox think that in a matter of minutes he would be involved with a convicted felon who had been released from prison just a little under a year ago. James “Skip” Lockhart, III, clearly was not intent on straightening out his life. If he had, the weed in his car and 12 guns would not have been in his possession.
As Officer Fox settled in behind Lockhart’s white Volvo at 79th and Carroll Road, he noticed a taillight was missing. It was his duty to make sure the driver knew the light was out and to serve him with a ticket. One motion of turning on his red lights usually resulted with a driver pulling over. But that was not the case with Lockhart as he initially stopped but suddenly fled, leading the officer on a short pursuit into the Bradford Creek subdivision. The chase pursued ending at High View Drive and Clearview Lane.
“It all happened so fast. I had just reached to disconnect my seatbelt when Lockhart was at my side window. I saw the barrel of the gun aimed at me. The sound of the bullets hitting me was deafening. It’s a sound I will never forget,” Fox said. “I’ve been asked a dozen times if I passed out as a flurry of bullets were fired, nine of which hit me: One in my left forearm, one in the hand, and one in the forehead pretty much shattering my sinus cavity. The rest of the other bullets lodged in my bullet proof vest. The pain of those bullets hit first. I didn’t lose consciousness, but the blood from the forehead wound pretty much blurred my vision. I do remember communicating a description of the car and the driver. I knew Lannie was there and worried that he might have been hit as well (he wasn’t), but I couldn’t get to him in the condition I was in,” Fox added with a tone that clearly spoke to the memories of this horrible night.
A short while later, an Indianapolis Police Officer traveling on Fox Road a couple miles from the incident spotted what he believed to be the shooter’s car which Fox had described. Lockhart pulled in The Grand Reserve at Geist apartment complex where his assault on society ended in a short gun battle that he initiated.
Today, Officer Fox is back at work and anxious to get on with life and into a normal routine. When asked if he had thoughts of walking away from this dangerous job, he answered, “I wouldn’t do anything different. I don’t work this kind of job for the money. You want to help protect people, to keep them safe. That’s what I was doing on July 27. And that’s what I will continue to do.” There was no bitterness or fear in his voice. These words came from his heart and his love of being a police officer.
The Hancock County community and fellow police officers have indeed pitched in to help Fox and his family (Alissa Miller and their 3-year-old daughter, Megan) with local fund raisers. These funds defray some of the financial setbacks that take a toll when a family experiences what Fox went through. The shooting aftermath hit Alissa hard. She was given time off without pay to help her regain her own footing while caring for her partner. But life goes on, as do the household bills.
We do have a caring community, and the Lincoln Square Pancake Houses are all hosting a full day of remembering Officer Fox by donating 50% of their proceeds on December 19 to his cause. (click here)
“I am so thankful for all the nice things that my community has done for me and my family. When something like this happens, the injuries are one thing, but the things you can’t prepare for – like loss of income – can knock the socks right off you. We will get back on our feet, and we will never forget the support it took to help us get there,” Fox said.
And we, the citizens, should never forget what a few good men and women do to let us sleep peacefully at night while they are always in harm’s way!
If you wish to make a contribution, donations can be sent to: Fortville Police, 714 East Broadway Street, Fortville, IN 46040 – Attention Office Matt Fox Fund. And, if you want to send a message directly to Matt, email him at msf7302@aolcom.