Elkhart Walmart evacuated after suspicious vehicle, Warsaw man arrested

(photo supplied / Elkhart County Jail)

Officers evacuated employees and customers from the Walmart on Old U.S. 20 and Ash Road at around 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21.

That, after Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department officers responded to a complaint of suspicious persons who were parked in a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot.

Upon officers’ arrival, two men were located in the vehicle with a handgun found in view, according to the sheriff’s department.

37-year-old Joseph P. Gerber of Warsaw was arrested and taken at the Elkhart County Jail on preliminary charges of unlawful possession of a police radio, carrying a handgun without a person, obliterating identifying marks on a handgun and for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

A second suspect, a 28-year-old man, who had a warrant for his arrest from the U.S. Marshals Service for a weapons related charge and for dealing in methamphetamine, was taken into custody by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Local charges for the second suspect, including conspiracy to impersonate a public servant and for conspiracy to commit armed robbery, will be forwarded to the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office for further review.

Officers learned that a third person had entered into the store which prompted officers to evacuate and search the building in an attempt to locate that individual.

Officers were not able to find the third person and store video confirmed that the suspect had already left the premises.

As of 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the search for the third suspect was still underway.