Seymour man to plead guilty on attempted battery charge

Tribune staff reports

A Seymour man has agreed to plead guilty to a Class B felony charge of attempted aggravated battery in connection with a night of drinking that sparked 25 to 30 rounds being shot at police in June 2014.

Jeremy C. French, 43, recently entered a plea agreement in Jackson Circuit Court that could see him sentenced to anywhere from six to 20 years in prison. That’s a decision Judge Richard W. Poynter will announce at the end of French’s sentencing hearing at 1 p.m. May 20.

French originally had faced 11 charges, including four Class A felony counts of attempted murder and four Class B felony counts of attempted aggravated burglary, after the incident that began when Jackson County Sheriff’s Department officers responded to a report of a family fight, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Police did not return fire during the early morning hours of the June 2, 2014, incident that began when officers were called to French’s residence after receiving reports of a man who had been drinking and threatening to hurt himself. The first call was received by dispatchers at 12:01 a.m. that day.

According to court records, the first officers arriving in the area helped French’s wife and other family reach safety after being told by dispatchers French reportedly had military training and 2,500 rounds of ammunition and might have body armor.

While helping family members to safety, officers came under fire from someone in an upstairs bedroom.

At that time, officers took cover behind cars and waited for the county emergency response team to arrive along with a Seymour Police Department armored vehicle.

County Officer Jeffrey Walters, who was near county Officer Dustin Steward and Seymour Officer Jacob Florine, said at that point, one shot was fired over their heads as they sought cover. Seymour Officer Jeremy Soliday broke a toe as he tripped over a railroad tie lying in a driveway.

Fourteen shots hit a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Soliday, and another nine hit a 2005 Ram parked in a driveway across the street. A nearby residence also was struck once.

Before French surrendered about an hour after the incident began, more than 30 police officers had arrived on the scene.

During a search of the residence, police found several weapons — rifles and shotguns — and several rounds of ammunition, fired and unfired. They also found glass windows shot and broken out and what appeared to be bullet holes in the ceiling in the home French and his wife share with their three children.

French told police after his arrest he had not taken the medication he takes for anxiety on June 1, 2014. He said he drank two beers and started doing shots of tequila at a nearby graduation party.

French said he had not eaten well that day, and that combined with a lack of fluids in his body meant “it was downhill from there.”

He said his wife later took him from the party, but he did not really remember much after that point.

French’s wife told police her husband drank beer, tequila and moonshine at the party before she brought him home.

She said she became aggravated with her husband because he was “very drunk,” which she said was not typical behavior.

After helping him home and into their bedroom, the couple got into a brief argument.

That’s when he “just snapped,” she said, and grabbed a 9mm gun and said, “I’m going to kill everyone.”

French’s wife said she and their son were able to get the gun away from French during a struggle in the bedroom.

French’s wife said the couple’s son left the room, but she stayed to try calm her husband or let him eventually pass out.

But he did neither, she said, and the couple had another brief struggle before she decided she needed to get out of the house.

By that point, her son had called 911, and police were beginning to arrive.

French told police he thought he spent some time after that in the closet as be began to sober up. He said he did remember answering his cellphone and talking to an officer about surrendering.

He told investigators he was thinking that now that he knew what he had been doing, he did not want to put up a fight.

As part of the plea deal, the state has agreed to dismiss the remaining charges, including three other charges of criminal confinement, intimidation and criminal recklessness.