(Copley, OH) – It all began shortly before 11am in a quiet neighborhood in Copley Ohio, west of Akron. The Copley Police Department said in a news release late Sunday that 911 calls started filtering in when cries of “A person running through the neighborhood and firing a gun” were heard throughout the neighborhood. What followed has been described as a ‘gruesome tragedy’.
At a home, the gunman Michael Hance, 51, shot his girlfriend, then ran to a home next door and shot her brother and four others. Then the gunman chased two other people through some neighbor’s yards and shot one of them, police said.
The girlfriend, Beck Dieter remains in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, police stated.
Police still don’t have a definite motive for the shootings, but one woman, who says she was a caregiver for a couple slain in the rampage, said Hance’s confrontational behavior towards the couple caused her to leave her job. Robin Hancock said Hance was an unpleasant and strange person who was not well-liked in the neighborhood. She said Hance had become embroiled in a dispute over the will of Dieter’s late parents, and that a next-door couple who were long-time friends with Dieter’s parents had gotten involved.
That couple were among the seven whom police say Hance shot and killed.
Four of the victims were from the same family. They were identified as Autumn Johnson, 16; her father, Bryan Johnson, 44; and his parents, Russell Johnson, 67, and Gudrun Johnson, 64.
Also killed was Craig Deiter, 51, and his 11-year-old son, Scott. News outlets in Cincinnati reported Monday that the Deiters were visiting Becky, and are originally from Northern Kentucky.
Details provided by police on Monday indicated that Hance targeted the 11 year old boy specifically. According to police, Hance spotted the boy as he ran through the neighborhood and into a house. The gunman followed and forced his way inside to the basement, where five residents and Deiter were hiding. After talking with the residents, Hance allowed them to leave, but he kept the boy and shot him to death in the basement, Hirsch reported.
Hance killed his 8th victim inside one of the homes, and as he exited the home, he was met by deadly gunfire from a police officer and a citizen who used to be a police officer.
The neighborhood remained blocked off by police late Sunday. About 200 people assembled at a park around sunset for an impromptu candlelight vigil for the shooting victims in their town and crime victims elsewhere.