Man arrested in connection with Wayne Street parking garage homicide

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Police Department has arrested a man in connection with the murder of Robert Pulliam Jr. on Sunday.

Police arrested 33-year-old Elkhart resident Derrick Pratcher in connection with the incident.

Pratcher was charged with one count of murder, one count of unlawful carrying of a handgun and one count of unlawful carrying of a handgun as a felon. He was also charged with a firearm enhancement.

At 11:23 p.m. on Sunday, officers were called to the Wayne Street parking garage for a report of shots fired.

When they arrived, they found Pulliam unresponsive and with a gunshot wound to the head.

His cause of death was ruled a homicide.

Police determined Pulliam was a security guard for the garage and had been working that evening.

During a search of the garage, officers found a spent shell casing and a spent projectile near Pulliam.

A witness to the incident was hiding in the upper floors of the garage, looking visibly distraught, and told police they were working as a Venues and Parks Ambassador when they came across Pratcher while patrolling city-owned property.

According to the first witness and a second witness who was patrolling with the first witness, Pratcher was parked in the exit lane on the first floor of the garage, near two vehicles, in a dark-colored Kia Sportage with a Florida license plate.

The witnesses said they didn't know Pratcher.

Because Pratcher was loitering near the VPA vehicles parked in the garage, they approached him and asked if he needed anything, reports said.

Pratcher allegedly told them one of the vehicles in the garage belonged to the family member.

The witnesses then drove out of the garage.

The second witness was scheduled to leave but asked the first witness to park across the street from the garage and monitor Pratcher.

The first witness notified the garage security guard after seeing Pratcher approach other vehicles in the garage that belonged to the city.

A short time later, Pulliam arrived, and he and the first witness approached Pratcher.

Pulliam told Pratcher to leave and that he was trespassing.

At some point during the interaction, the witness saw Pulliam take a photo of the Kia and its license plate.

The witness then walked away to call 911.

As he walked away, he saw Pulliam turn his back to Pratcher and use his cell phone to call 911.

With Pulliam's back turned, Pratcher allegedly pulled a handgun out of his satchel bag and shot Pulliam in the head from a short range, reports said.

As the witness took cover, he reported hearing a vehicle leave the garage.

When police arrived a short time later, the Kia and Pratcher were no longer in the garage.

According to an analysis of Pulliam's phone by the St. Joseph County Cybercrimes Unit, Pulliam took a photograph of the Kia at 11:21 p.m.

The photo depicted the Kia and its license plate.

Video surveillance in the area captured a black Kia Sportage, with a Florida plate matching the one in the photo, leave the parking garage immediately after shots were fired and before police arrived.

A BMV search of the Florida plate showed the vehicle belonged to a rental car agency.

Officials at the agency confirmed Pratcher had been renting the Kia since February 13, 2023, according to reports.

They said Pratcher used his driver's license to rent the vehicle.

A BMV photograph of Pratcher matched the age and description of the man the witnesses saw in the garage.

On Monday afternoon, location technology showed the Kia was in Vandalia, Michigan.

Deputies from Michigan's Cass County Sheriff's Office responded to the area and found Pratcher inside the Kia, which was sitting in a park.

Pratcher confirmed a handgun found in the Kia was his, according to reports.

A firearm expert compared the shell casing and projectile found near Pulliam with shell casings and projectiles test fired form Pratcher's handgun and confirmed the spent items came from Pratcher's gun, reports said.

During an interview, Pratcher allegedly admitted to being in the parking garage on Sunday evening in the Kia.

He denied encountering anyone in the parking garage but confirmed no one else was in possession of the Kia or the firearm that was used to kill Pulliam, reports said.

A previous 2020 conviction prohibits Pratcher from carrying a handgun.

Share this article: