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Emmett man pleads guilty to shooting Eagle Police officer

Officer Brandon Austin was shot in the chest and arm after chasing down a suspect on a stolen motorcycle in July.
Credit: KTVB
Matthew S. Kelly, 21, of Emmett, appeared for a video arraignment in Ada County court on Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with four felonies.

BOISE, Idaho — A 21-year-old who shot and seriously injured an Eagle Police officer after a chase in July has pleaded guilty.

Matthew Stillhallis Kelly pleaded guilty to felony assault and battery on an officer and felony grand theft Tuesday morning. Additional charges of eluding and a weapons enhancement were dropped. 

The Ada County Sheriff's Office says that Kelly was riding a stolen motorcycle near Highway 16 and Beacon Light Road when Officer Brandon Austin spotted him July 13 and tried to pull him over. 

Kelly sped away, driving onto the River Birch golf course in Star and leading a short chase before the engine on the motorcycle blew. 

RELATED: Bond set at $2 million for Emmett man accused of shooting deputy

As Austin approached him, Kelly pulled a handgun and shot at the deputy, hitting him twice. One bullet struck Austin in the upper arm, shattering the bone, while the other entered his chest cavity.

The injured officer was able to put a tourniquet on his arm to slow the bleeding until other officers arrived. He was rushed to Saint Alphonsus in critical condition, where he underwent surgery.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Boise, Meridian, Garden City, Eagle, Star and Idaho State Police joined in on a manhunt for Kelly, telling nearby residents to stay inside their home. He was found hiding in a nearby cornfield and arrested about 90 minutes after the shooting. 

RELATED: 21-year-old Emmett man arrested after allegedly shooting an Eagle Police officer twice

At an arraignment, prosecutors described Kelly as a professional burglar who, along with his father Kevin Kelly, was responsible for a string of break-ins in the area. The men had used a pet door to crawl into two homes in the Beacon Light neighborhood on the Fourth of July, prosecutors said. 

Investigators say that after his arrest, Kelly admitted to shooting Austin, saying that he did it to avoid going to jail. 

Credit: ACSO
Eagle Police Officer Brandon Austin left a Boise hospital Wednesday. He is home recovering from two gunshot wounds.

RELATED: Injured Eagle Police officer released from the hospital, gets escort home

Austin survived the shooting and was released from the hospital several days later to applause and a crowd of well-wishers, including Sheriff Stephen Bartlett. The Ada County Sheriff's Office says he is continuing to recover, but has not yet returned to work.

Kelly has been held in the Ada County Jail on a $2 million bond since his arrest. 

Sentencing in the case is set for Feb. 5, 2021.

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