A dispute over harassing a special needs child at an Indiana county fair ends in murder, police say

fight at county fair leaves one man dead worker charged with murder
Source: Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Unsplash

Aug. 6 2021, Published 9:56 a.m. ET

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A fight broke out at the Indiana county fair, leaving one dead and a rider operator charged with murder, police say.

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On July 27, a family reported to Zachariah Konkle, 32, that someone at a nearby game made fun of their child with special needs, according to authorities.

Konkle was operating one of the rides at the Jackson County Fair and told the family he would take care of the problem, police said. Court records state Konkle punched a game operator in the head while accusing him of making fun of an autistic child.

However, the game operator denied doing that, as he said he had a child with special needs himself and would never do such a thing, officials said.

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Witnesses stated Konkle then walked over to Michael Steele and told him he would “get it twice as worse” if Konkle found out he punched the “wrong guy,” the Indianapolis Star reported.

The two men continued to argue until Steele threw a punch, which lead to the men falling to the ground and Konkle put Steele in a headlock and punched him five or six times, police said.

According to Konkle, he told police he laid on Steele’s chest for a minute, maybe two and then Steele went limp.

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Police talked with a woman who saw Steele on the ground and tried to perform CPR on him, but Konkle pushed her off and said she was doing it wrong, according to the Star's report.

Konkle performed CPR on Steele until the cops arrived and he was arrested.

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Despite what witnesses told police, Konkle had a different story about who started the fight that night. He told police he talked with a friend before the fight and said he may have argued with the wrong person regarding the family’s complaint.

That is when Steele approached him and said, “if (he was) going to slap someone, slap me,” according to the Star. Konkle said Steele then hit him on the side of the head, which lead to them fighting until he laid on Steele’s chest.

Steele was taken to an Indianapolis hospital where he died four days later and his autopsy revealed his death was a homicide by asphyxiation, officials said.

Konkle was charged with murder and he is booked in Jackson County Jail and is being held without bond, police said.

Authorities stated Konkle is listed as a registered sex offender from a 2015 guilty plea to sexual misconduct with a minor and his supervisor said she was not aware of his offender status when she was questioned about him working the ride and around children at the fair.

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