INDIANAPOLIS — Newly filed court documents go into further detail into why prosecutors believe 21-year-old Eric Salinas did “recklessly kill” 19-year-old Austin Bunn at the Lake Castleton Apartments on May 8.
Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers were called to Indy’s northeast side off Carlton Arms Drive on May 8 just after 8 p.m. on a report of a person shot. When they arrived, they found Bunn suffering a gunshot wound to the left side of his head. Bunn was taken to a local hospital where he later died.
Investigators said inside the apartment they found Salinas, who told officers on the scene that Bunn was going to clean his gun for him. He added that it had not been cleaned yet and Bunn had a cleaning kit. He entered Bunn’s bedroom, removed the magazine from the weapon and did not realize there was a bullet in the chamber.
Salinas told officers that as he handed the gun to Bunn, his finger was still on the trigger, “kind of, and just pop,” according to court documents. He said he saw Bunn’s phone drop and thought, “what the hell” and turned around and saw Bunn was “leaking.”
Salinas advised officers that he was an employee of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and Bunn was an employee of IDOC who worked at the Pendleton facility.
Investigators were able to get a search warrant and searched the apartment for evidence including what they said was the bed in a far bedroom that had blood and other fluid on it. They also found a spent cartridge casing under the bed.
Officers were able to interview Salinas’ girlfriend who explained that Salinas called her from work “upset” stating Bunn was going to clean his gun for him and he accidentally shot him in the head while clearing (unloading) the gun. She told him she would come home and that he needed to call 911.
She added that Salinas and Bunn had been roommates for a year or so and that she moved into the apartment with them in January, sharing a room with Salinas. Officers say she advised that she had never seen the men act carelessly or play with firearms, but they did occasionally point tasers at one another in the “spirit of play.”
Court documents state Salinas then gave another account of the incident to detectives at the homicide office that investigators claim differed from the initial statement given on scene. In the second statement, Salinas told detectives after obtaining the barrel brush for his gun he walked into Bunn’s room. While Bunn was lying on his bed, Salinas entered the room, removing the magazine saying, “Hey, Bunn,” and then pulled the trigger after the magazine was removed. His previous statement indicated it happened while he was handing the gun to Bunn.
Investigators spoke with two separate friends of Bunn’s. Both shared information about growing tension between Bunn and his roommate and said he was looking for a new place to live. One even added that Bunn recently purchased a gun for his “personal protection” after asking to stay at her place. Court documents showed this differed from the initial statements given to police from Salinas’ girlfriend.
Salinas was an intake officer at the Hancock County Jail and was required to be armed while transporting prisoners. He had recently failed the department’s annual firearms course in April and the department kept his weapons and magazines until he passed the ILEA qualifications. One of the course documents provided, “Use of Force subsection 3 Safety Brief,” states all guns are to be treated as loaded and to not point your gun at anything you do not intend to destroy.
On May 5, Salinas successfully met the minimum score required and his firearm and magazines were returned days before the deadly incident on May 8.
Salinas is being charged with reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony. He’s scheduled in court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 5 at 1 p.m.