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Robbery suspect shot by Lincoln police officers

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LINCOLN - The Lincoln police chief and a second officer shot and wounded a man reportedly riding in a pickup truck with a victim he was trying to rob, authorities said Tuesday.

Michael "Tattoo" Knuth, 33, of Lincoln was shot several times by Lincoln Police Chief Stuart Erlenbush and a second officer about 8 p.m. Monday near Scully Park, State's Attorney Michael McIntosh said at a news conference Tuesday. No charges were filed Tuesday.

Knuth was in fair condition Tuesday at St. John's Hospital in Springfield. While where and how many times he was shot were not disclosed, McIntosh said he is expected to recover from his injuries.

Erlenbush remains on duty, but the other officer was placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure after shootings involving police. Investigators are not releasing the name of the second officer, who is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Police were notified of an armed robbery at about 7:45 p.m. near Scully Park, McIntosh said. At least one shot was fired in that robbery, McIntosh said, adding that details on the robbery were sketchy.

Police then stopped a pickup truck carrying Knuth and another man near Decatur and Kickapoo streets, the western corner of the park. Knuth reportedly pointed a handgun at the officers, who fired in response, McIntosh said.

McIntosh said the victim of the armed robbery was the man driving the pickup truck. The victim offered Knuth a ride in an effort to get Knuth away from the victim's home and the people there, McIntosh said.

The victim apparently did not know Knuth and may have been selected at random, McIntosh said.

McIntosh said Knuth was armed with a stolen 9-mm handgun at the time of the shooting. Knuth has several felony convictions that would prevent him from legally owning a firearm.

Knuth was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty in 2000 of McLean County charges of aggravated battery and possession of a firearm by a felon. Knuth served probation for a felony armed robbery conviction in 1995, also in McLean County.

In Logan County, there is an active order of protection against Knuth in connection with an aggravated battery case, according to court records.

Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting, and there is video from the dashboard of a police vehicle that will be reviewed.

McIntosh said it appears the officers conducted themselves in an appropriate and professional manner.

It was not yet known how many shots were fired or if Knuth fired a weapon. A neighbor told The (Bloomington) Pantagraph that he heard eight or nine gunshots.

McIntosh said his office has time to determine what charges to file in the case because the suspect was hospitalized.

kbarlow@pantagraph.com mkguetersloh@pantagraph.com

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