Coroner releases new information on Kirkersville fatal shootings

Published: Friday, May 12, 2017 @ 8:07 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Update on shooting in Kirkersville

UPDATE @ 10:50 a.m. May 16

The Licking County Coroner’s Office released new information late Monday on the manner in which three victims and the shooter died at the Pine Kirk Care Center in Kirkersville on Friday. 

Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Disario, 38, was killed by a single shotgun blast as he exited his cruiser in the alley behind the nursing home. 

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Cindy Krantz, 48, a nurse’s aide at the home, died from a single, close-range shotgun wound in the hallway of the home. 

Marlina Medrano, 46, was killed in the nursing office. She died of multiple gunshot wounds from both a shotgun and a handgun. 

All three of those deaths have been ruled homicides. 

Thomas Hartless, 43, was also found dead in the nursing office. He died of a single shotgun wound to the head. His death has been ruled a suicide.

UPDATE @ 2:59 p.m. May 15:

Funeral services for Kirkersville Police Chief Steven DiSario are scheduled for Saturday, however except exact times have not been released, according to 10TV.

Calling hours for DiSario are scheduled for Friday, 10TV reported.

UPDATE @ 1:41 p.m. May 15

The shooting Friday that claimed the life of Kirkersville, Ohio Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario and three others is getting national attention after President Donald Trump referred to the incident during a tribute to fallen law enforcement, according to a report from the Associated Press.

At the 36th Annual national Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, Trump recalled the events that occurred Friday morning in the Central Ohio town and told the crowd that DiSario leaves behind six children and an unborn child on the way, according to AP’s report.

Trump: 'Attacks on police must end'

DiSario was one of three — along with Marlina Medrano and Cindy Krantz — who were fatally shot at a nursing home by Thomas Hartless, who then turned the gun on himself and took his own life, according to authorities in Kirkersville. 

AP quoted Trump from the speech: "Our hearts break for the chief's family. We love you all ... The attacks on our police are a stain on the very fabric of our society," Trump said, adding that it’s his duty as president to keep America safe "from crimes, safe from terrorism and safe from all enemies — foreign and domestic."

UPDATE @ 1 p.m. May 13

Main Street in Kirkersville is mostly back to quiet business as usual a day after a gunman with a violent past took hostages behind a nursing home here before shooting the police chief and then shooting his way into the Pine Kirk Care Center and killing two employees. 

But signs of the tragedy are evident. 

The American flag flies at half staff at the Kirkersville United Methodist Church across the street from the home. Blue ribbons honoring the fallen chief, Steven Eric DiSario, are tied on poles throughout town. 

In the alley where he was slain, someone has spray painted "RIP Chief" on the ground. 

One of the men who was held hostage lives in a home directly behind the nursing home. His wife asked not to be identified, but said her husband is physically okay, but mentally shaken. 

He took the couple's dog out for a walk early Friday morning and apparently encountered Thomas Hartless, 43, of Utica, Ohio. 

It's believed Hartless was hiding out in the brush waiting for Marlina Medrano, a nurse at the home who he had a past relationship with, to come outside. 

Instead he took the man walking his dog hostage. When he didn't return, his wife called a coworker of his to take a look around and see where he was at. That man also became a hostage of Hartless, but was able to call 911. 

That's when DiSario responded. The police station is four buildings down from the nursing home. 

Latest on Kirkersville shooting

After shooting DiSario, witnesses said Hartless ran to the front of the nursing home and shot his way inside. It's a secure facility that can't be entered without being buzzed in. 

After killing Medrano and nurses aide Cindy Krantz, Hartless reportedly turned the gun on himself. 

Official autopsies have not been released to confirm cause of death of the four deceased individuals. 

No nursing home residents were injured and they have not returned to the home. A biohazard cleanup crew were the only people at the home on Saturday morning.

Honoring a fallen police chief

Michelle Bachelor, her sister Victoria Roles and other neighbors cut lengths of black ribbon to tie on poles all over town in honor of the victims including fallen police chief Steven Eric DiSario. 

"I have many friends that are police officers, and it was her idea to do this because she lives here in this community," said Roles who is visiting from Maryland. 

Bachelor lives catty-corner from the nursing home where three people plus the shooter died Friday morning. 

She heard some commotion outside, and then her son called. 

"He said, 'Get the shotgun and take cover, there's an active shooter in Kirkersville,'" she said. 

Her husband was sitting out on the porch, but hadn't seen what was going on. 

Neighbors said it's not uncommon to hear gunfire from nearby fields, but it was immediately evident this was something different. 

"I thought I was dreaming at first because you don't just walk outside and see something like that," said Deanna Kesterson, who lives down the block. 

She walked outside to put her son on the school bus, but was met by and officer telling her to get back inside and that the school was on lock down. 

"They told us to go inside and lock our doors," she said. 

She and others said it was a huge shock as mornings in Kirkersville are usual quiet. 

"People got up that morning, got their coffees heading to work, think they're going to go home to their families and someone just ruined it for a whole lot of people. Especially those kids. Very very sad," Kesterson said. 

"My first thought, was my neighbors," said Kathy Rogers, who heard the shots as she was letting her dog out Friday morning. 

"I didn't know any of the people, but they were our people," she said. "So it's personal." 

Bachelor was immediately worried about her niece. 

"My niece works there and ran late that day," she said. "That could have easily been her." 

Many in the five-block-by-five-block town were easily able to recall the last time there was a serious crime in Kirkersville. It was years ago when a guy tried to rob the bank with a giant knife. The bank isn't there anymore. 

In it's place is the Kirkersville Police station, which Saturday was decorated with flowers, blue ribbons and stuffed animals in honor of DiSario. 

People stopped to sit on the steps and pray and think. 

"This is a speck on the map. This is just so random it could have happened anywhere," Bachelor said.


Four people — a police chief, a nurse, a nurse’s aide and the man who killed all of them — are dead following a shooting  Friday morning at a nursing home in Kirkersville, Ohio, east of Columbus. 

WATCH: Emergency vehicles leaving Kirkersville

UPDATE @ 8:12 p.m.:

Marlina Medrano, 46, a nurse at facility who had a past relationship with Thomas Hartless and who lived on the same street as he did in Utica, has been identified as one of the victims in the shooting. 

“Without going into things we don’t really know yet, it is clear one of the victims had a relationship with the shooter,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in confirming for reporters that he was referring to Medrano .

Cindy Krantz, 48, a nurse’s aide at the facility, has been identified as another of the victims.

Licking County Coroner Dr. Michael Campolo said the autopsies on all of dead would be completed by Sunday. He would not say how many times the victims were hit by gunfire.

“We’re still investigating, but it appears so” that Hartless turned a gun on himself, Campolo said.

Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp said multiple firearms were recovered at the scene, though he would not say how many or what type, and that he believes they all belonged to Hartless.

He said he believes Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario was on duty and in uniform when he was slain.

Thorp said his deputies will be patrolling Kirkersville for the small police department, in light of the tragedy. “We would do whatever the village needs us to do” in terms of helping the police department deal with losing its chief, he said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, in an impromptu news briefing with Thorp and Campolo, said he and the sheriff have spoken with some family members of the victims.

“We just wanted to tell them how much we care, how sorry we were and that we’re here for them,” he said.

“This is just a horrible day,” DeWine said. “It’s a horrible day for this community. It’s a horrible day for the county and the state.”

Emergency vehicles leaving Kirkersville

UPDATE @ 5:10 p.m.:

The shooter has been identified as Thomas Hartless, 43, of Utica, Ohio.

We’re also hearing that SWAT and Ohio BCI are searching Hartless’ house in the 300 block of Oakland Avenue.

UPDATE @ 3:47 p.m.:

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the suspected shooter is from Utica. Search warrants have been obtained for his home as well as two vehicles. 

One vehicle was found at a Pilot Flying J. The gunman is not being identified at this time.

The gunman for a period of time prior to the shooting did have two hostages in a wooded area that were not harmed, DeWine said in an afternoon press conference.

Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp said investigators are still trying to determine any connection between the shooter and residents or employees of the nursing home. 

“This is a situation, we don’t know the cause or purpose or what drove the individual to do this,” Thorp said. 

Names of the two other victims, only identified as female, will be released by the Licking County Coroner’s Office, which has not released any preliminary information at this time. 

UPDATE @ 2:31 p.m.:

Sarah Sims, 23, had just finished working a 12-hour overnight shift at Pine Kirk and was in the basement with five co-workers and five residents when they heard loud bangs. 

Sims said since some residents have behavioral issues, she thought someone was throwing a chair. But a new co-worker quickly returned to the basement, telling them someone was shooting upstairs.

Sims and her co-workers acted quickly: barricading the basement door and calling 911. Sims, who started working at Pine Kirk as a high school junior six years ago, said she thought, “I just gotta keep people in this room safe and keep this door closed.”

Sims stayed on the line with county dispatch for 32 minutes, getting advised to say quiet and calm. 

After the scene was cleared, Sims and others were taken to a church across the street to be interviewed by investigators. She is still uncertain who of her co-workers were killed.

“I don’t know who it could be or anything,” she said.

Sims said she is shaky and in shock now but she expects she’ll return to work — a place where she said she has grown into an adult and where she is close to residents and workers.

“It’s like family,” she said.

Steven E. Disario and wife Aryn Disario, Contributed from family

UPDATE @ 1:09 p.m.:

Bill Sims said his 23-year-old daughter Sarah Sims is a worker at the nursing home. S he had locked herself in the basement and called 911 when shots rang out. She then texted her mother saying she was safe.

“It’s just traumatizing,” Bill Sims said. “We’re so glad she’s safe.”

Bill Sims said he rushed over from work, and family members of the nursing home employees were waiting outside while the workers were interviewed by police. 

UPDATE @ 12:18 p.m.:

Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp said two nursing home employees and Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario, 36, were killed. The police chief had only been police chief for a few weeks.

The police chief killed is a father of five with a sixth child on the way.

Thorp said the police chief was responding to an initial report of a gunman in the street. The last radio traffic from the police chief was that he had the gunman in sight. 

Thorp said the police chief engaged the gunman near the rear of the nursing home.

“This is a terrible tragedy for our community,” Thorp said.

Thorp said a weapon has not been recovered yet. 

None of the 23 nursing home residents were injured. They have all been taken to area hospitals.

Thorp said some of the nursing home residents had barricaded themselves during the shooting. 

Gunfire only lasted for a matter of minutes just before 8 a.m. 

A crisis team is in place to help the responding officers and deputies, including those that pulled the police chief to safety. 

The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation.


Shots rang out around 7:50 a.m. at Pine Kirk Care Center on East Main Street. It was an active shooter situation for a period of time.

LIVE COVERAGE: Active shooter situation in Kirkersville

By 8:45 a.m., the shooter was reported down, according to our partners at 10TV in Columbus. The male shooter reportedly turned the gun on himself after shooting multiple people inside the nursing home.

Witness to Kirkersville shooting

WATCH: Witness to Kirkersville shooting 

»MORE:  Beyond Kirkersville: Country’s worst shootings in 2016 and so far this year happened in Ohio

At least two are reported shot inside the nursing home, according to sources.

The police officer killed is from the Kirkersville department, according to 10TV.

Aftermath: The scene at Kirkersville

WATCH: Aftermath: The scene at Kirkersville

»PHOTOS:  Kirkersville shooting scenes

By 10:30 a.m., law enforcement officers were moving some of the senior citizens that had been inside the building for hours to a neighboring church across the street.

Police are also interviewing witnesses from inside the nursing home.

»RELATED:  3 things to know about the Village of Kirkersville

Brian Milam, of Kirksersville for the last decade, lives next door to the nursing home.

“I was talking to my friend Bob on the phone and I heard a loud pop and I said I thought it sounded like a gunshot. … Then I heard two more shots. Then I walked out on the porch and about that time the squad and police were everywhere,” Milam said.

»WATCH LIVE: Coverage of Kirkersville shooting

A nearby Kirkersville Elementary School was on lockdown as a result of the situation. 

Ben Richards, director of communications, Southwest Licking Local Schools, said there are about 600 kindergartners and first graders in enrolled in Kikersversville Elementary School. When the sheriff informed the district about the shooting, all the kids were taken to the middle school and subsequently released to their parents.

Other schools in the district were also placed on a Level 1 lockdown as a precaution, which means no one leaves and no one comes in, but classes resume.

Gov. John Kasich reacted to the incident on Twitter around 9 a.m.

LIVE COVERAGE: Active shooter situation in Kirkersville