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Two arrested after parking lot shootout near Idaho Falls Temple

Crime Watch

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The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Police Department.

IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls Police are investigating a shooting incident that took place near the Idaho Falls Temple on Sunday.

Just before 7:30 p.m. officers responded to the area of 955 Memorial Drive for a report of a possible shooting. A caller reported that they had seen what appeared to be an exchange of gunfire between two people in a parking lot before both parties left in separate vehicles. Officers arrived and found evidence that a shooting had occurred and that someone had likely been injured during that shooting.

At approximately 8 p.m., officers located one of the involved parties, Austin Kuck, at Idaho Falls Community Hospital. Kuck had sustained a gunshot wound to the hand.

At approximately the same time, Frederick Free, the other involved party, contacted Idaho Falls Police Dispatch and informed the dispatcher that he had been involved in a shooting.

Investigators spoke with Kuck who said he suspected Free and another person of breaking into his residence and stealing his belongings. Kuck located Free and the person in the parking lot adjacent to the temple and located what he identified as a stolen item in Free’s possession. Kuck confronted Free and a verbal argument ensued.

During the argument, Kuck stated that Free displayed a firearm and ultimately shot Kuck in the hand.

Investigators spoke with Free who confirmed that he and Kuck had argued in the parking lot at 955 Memorial Drive. Free stated that he feared for his safety when he shot Kuck but that Kuck had not threatened him directly or done anything specific to cause that fear.

Free stated that he and the second person left the scene in their vehicle. While they were driving away, Kuck shot multiple times at their vehicle. When investigators asked Kuck about this, Kuck stated that shooting at their vehicle was self-defense. Investigators informed Kuck that because Free was leaving and not presenting a further danger to Kuck the self-defense claim did not apply.

Idaho Falls Police officers spoke with witnesses and obtained security footage in the area that confirmed the series of events.

During the investigation, Free was found in possession of several small blue pills identified as fentanyl.

Free, a 23-year-old male resident of Idaho Falls, was arrested for aggravated battery with the use of a deadly weapon and possession of a controlled substance and was booked into the Bonneville County Jail.

Kuck, a 28-year-old male resident of Idaho Falls, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and unlawful discharge of a weapon at an occupied vehicle. Kuck received a medical clearance and was booked into the Bonneville County Jail.