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Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:53 AM
BUTLER COUNTY — Since January, 12 law enforcement officer across the county have been shot and killed, including two veteran officers killed in Westerville on Saturday while they responded to an apparent domestic situation.
The events brought back chilling memories for officers in Butler County, where two shootings have occurred in recent history.
Both law enforcement officers who were shot survived.
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Thursday marked the fourth anniversary of the shooting of Hamilton Police Officer Chad Stafford on a freezing Saturday morning.
Stafford responded just after 7 a.m. on Feb. 15, 2014, to a report of an armed man firing shots into the air in a quiet neighborhood. Stafford spotted the suspect, identified as Brandon Keeler, walking along the 1100 block of Sipple Avenue.
When Stafford got out of his car, Keeler shot at him. Stafford ducked behind a car, but the bullet grazed his head. Wounded, the firearms instructor and 16-year veteran of the Hamilton Police Department returned fire, striking Keeler dead with multiple gunshots.
Keeler, who left notes indicating he wanted to die at the hands of police, was shooting a civilian version of an AK-47 rifle and had plenty of ammunition.
Stafford fully recovered and returned to work on March 20, 2014. He is still patrolling the streets of the city.
In May 2014, Stafford was presented with a Medal of Valor, a supreme degree of recognition for selfless bravery during extreme conditions.
After that presentation, Stafford told this news outlet that it was wonderful to be back to work.
On that morning, Stafford said he was not alarmed by a shots fired call and really not too alarmed when he got out of his vehicle to face the armed man.
“It was another Saturday morning. I thought, I am going to tell him to put down the gun and he is going to, but he didn’t,” Stafford said.
He said he remembers returning fire and “I watched him lay down in the snow. I continued to cover him until the other officers arrived.”
Hamilton Public Safety Director Scott Scrimizzi, who was police chief in February 2014, said officer shootings do bring back that horrible call he received on Feb. 15, 2014.
“I was convinced that Chad was killed,” Scrimizzi said. He was driving his daughter to swim practice that day when he got a call from dispatch that Stafford had been shot in the head. “I will never forget 7:04, that is when my phone went off.”
“I pulled up convinced that he was dead,” Scrimizzi said. “They had the tape up … I see that we have a crime scene set up and there is a body there and I am convinced it is Chad.”
A supervisor, who didn’t recognize the chief at first, soon told him Stafford was a alive and being treated.
“That is when we transition to immediately, we have got to get to his family,” Scrimizzi said. He wanted to make sure Stafford’s wife and two children did not find out about his shooting from the media or social media.
Scrimizzi added Stafford “clearly had an angel sitting on his shoulder that day.”
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On March 20, 2005, Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Roberts was shot just outside the Village of Seven Mile while trying to apprehend to suspects on a crime spree.
Two Hamilton men, Mark Kendrick Jr., and Robert Morris, first attempted to rob a bank in College Corner, Ind., with sawed-off shotguns — they found the bank doors closed — before driving to Camden and robbing a BP station.
Camden Police Chief Mike Croucher began following the two men in his private vehicle. A short time after Croucher began his chase, the two suspects pulled into the Lazy Dog drive-through on Ohio 127 in Milford Township and attempted to disfigure their license plate.
Roberts then approached the suspect vehicle and stuck his weapon inside the front window. One of the men rose up from the car’s back seat and shot Roberts. The bullet went just under his vest and into his stomach.
The two men then stole the police cruiser and the officer’s gun and traveled south on Eaton Road. Later, with deputies in pursuit, they crashed the cruiser into a culvert about four miles from the Lazy Dog.
Kendrick and Morris fled into a creek area, where one suspect was found, hurt, a short time later. He was transported to an area hospital and the second suspect taken into custody by deputies.
“Just talking about it sends chills down my spine,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.
He said he was in his office in Hamilton and responded with lights and sirens.
“Seems like it took forever to get there,” Jones said. “They were loading him on CareFlight when I got there. We really didn’t know if he would live.”
Roberts said he thought he was dying, Jones said.
“They left him for dead in the dirt, took his gun and told him they would shoot him if he moved,” the sheriff said.
Roberts did recover and returned to the department. he later retired.
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 7:27 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 9:25 PM
CLARK COUNTY — UPDATE @ 9:25 p.m.:
An alert for a missing endangered Clark County man has been canceled.
Clark Pizner was found by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in West Jefferson, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
A missing endangered alert has been issued for a 66-year-old Moorefield Twp. man.
Clark Pizner was last seen around 4 p.m. driving from his residence in a yellow 2002 Jeep Wrangler with a black hard top and brass duck head on the hood with Ohio plate FGG9716, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
He stands 6 feet tall and weighs 220 pounds with blue eyes and brown/gray hair. He was last seen wearing a tan polo shirt, black jersey sweatpants and gray tennis shoes. He wears glasses and has a gray mustache.
He is possibly in need of medical attention, according to the sheriff’s office.
Anyone with information on Pizner’s whereabouts or who spots him is urged to call 911 or the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, 937-328-2560.
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 5:47 PM
Bada Bing Pizzeria in Springfield will close on Sunday, according to a post on the business’ Facebook page.
The post reads in part, “Thank you all for your support over the last few years. We have been blessed beyond measure. What’s next? Stay tuned.”
The restaurant is located at 40 N. Fountain Ave.
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 1:31 PM
AGUA DULCE, Calif. — A tip called in to Los Angeles County authorities led investigators to seize a total of 553 guns from a convicted felon last week, officials said.
Manuel Fernandez, 60, of Agua Dulce, was arrested Thursday on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms, possession of an assault rifle, being a felon in possession of ammunition and possession of large-capacity magazines, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials. He was released on bond the following day.
Sheriff’s Department officials said in a news release Monday that deputies at the department’s Palmdale station received a tip about a felon in possession of a “large arsenal of firearms.” Detectives, along with agents from the California Department of Justice, obtained a search warrant for Fernandez’s home in Agua Dulce.
Agua Dulce is located about 20 miles northeast of Santa Clarita, near Angeles National Forest.
Investigators found a total of 432 guns during the execution of the first search warrant at Fernandez’s home, the news release said. That search led them to a second home in Agua Dulce connected to Fernandez.
A total of 30 guns were found at that home, which belongs to a woman described by authorities as a female associate of Fernandez’s. The woman, who was not home Monday and has not returned since the search, is expected to face charges.
A second warrant served at Fernandez’s home led investigators to find another 91 weapons hidden in the house, the news release said.
“Detectives also seized computers, cellphones and hard drives from the residence believed to be involved in the illicit purchase of firearms by the suspect,” the news release said.
A photo released by the Sheriff’s Department shows rifles and other weapons piled into the bed of a Ford F-150 pickup truck. Other pictures show the massive cache of weapons laid out on a patio at the station.
The number of weapons seized was so large that investigators brought in agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assist in tracing the purchase history of the guns, authorities said.
“This case is a testament to the community’s involvement in reducing crime and taking guns out of the hands of criminals,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a statement.
McDonnell said the response by his personnel, as well as state and federal officials, shows the positive result of the Sheriff’s Department’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign.
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 7:12 AM
Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 2:30 PM
— UPDATE @ 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 19
Oral arguments in Brock Turner’s appeal of his sexual assault conviction will be held next month, according to court documents.
The Oakwood High School graduate and registered sexual offender’s appeal will be heard July 24 in San Jose, California.
UPDATE @ 10 a.m., Monday, May 21
Brock Turner’s attorney has asked the court to reschedule oral arguments in his appeal case, according to a court docket. A new date has not yet been scheduled.
Oral arguments in Brock Turner’s appeal of his sexual assault conviction are scheduled for next month, according to a California appellate court spokesman.
The Oakwood High School graduate and registered sexual offender’s appeal will be heard by a panel of three justices from California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal. Turner’s counsel and the state’s attorney will present arguments and answer questions during the June 28 hearing in San Jose, California.
The justices will then deliberate and later issue an opinion, said Cathal Conneely, the court’s spokesman.
The scheduling comes as Turner’s legal team drops several claims that would have allowed a re-trial or a re-sentencing on one or more counts, according to a court document filed by Turner’s attorney, Eric Multhaup.
The decision to withdraw a handful of the claims, Multhaup wrote, “was reached in large part out of consideration for appellant’s (Turner’s) family and out of consideration for Jane Doe and her family.”
Doe is the unidentified victim in the 2015 sexual assault at Stanford University. The 2016 case — and Turner’s sentence — sparked a nationwide controversy and wide-ranging discussions about sexual assaults on college campuses.
A jury found Turner guilty on three felony counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person. Turner was sentenced by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky to six months in jail, but served three months of the sentence.
Turner returned to Ohio and lives in Greene County, where he is a Level III sex offender — Ohio’s most-strict classification.
In a court filing earlier this year, the state’s attorney argued there was “substantial evidence from which a rational jury could find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all three charges.”
Turner’s attorney declined comment. Doe’s family friend, Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, also declined comment.
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