SHOOTER ARRAIGNED: Kimbler pleads not guilty

LARWILL — Dakota Kimbler, 17, is charged as an adult with a preliminary count of attempted murder, a Class A felony. He is booked in the Whitley County Jail with bail set at $250,000 bail. Authorities say Kimbler escaped from Pierceton Woods Juvenile Detention Center Saturday night. Today Kimbler appeared in Circuit Court. Kimbler entered a preliminary plea of not guilty and Judge James Heuer scheduled a pre-trial conference for Jan. 7. Attorney Brad Baber was designated as Kimbler’s public defender.A former Whitley County Sheriff’s reserve deputy, Johnny Couch, put his training to good use Sunday morning, but was nevertheless shot in the attempted carjacking.Couch, Whitko High School graduate, was headed home from his third-shift job at Paragon Medical in Pierceton at 7 a.m. when he noticed that someone was in his backseat.As Couch turned to confront Kimble, the unwelcome rider, he was shot in the chest with a small caliber handgun. Despite the wound, Couch managed to get the vehicle stopped at the intersection of Ind. 5 and Old Trail Road, wrestle the gun from Kimbler’s hands and hold him at gunpoint until police arrived on the scene.Couch was treated at a hospital in Fort Wayne and released.