An Ohio police chief was killed while responding to a shooting at a nursing home that left three others dead, according to police.
Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric Disario, 36, was identified as the officer ambushed while responding to reports of a gunman at the nursing home, located about 25 miles east of Columbus. When deputies arrived they discovered the father of six wounded, in the street, Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp said during a press conference.
The gunman was among the dead discovered inside Pine Kirk Care Center in Kirkersville. Two staff members of the facility were also killed in the shooting, but no residents were injured, Thorp said.
Police have identified Thomas Hartless, 43, as the suspected gunman, ABC 6 reports.
He had previously been sentenced to two years in prison in April 2010 for assault and abduction only to be released in December 2010.
Hartless was arrested again for domestic violence in January 2017.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said during a second press conference that the shooter was from Utica and warrants have been obtained for his home and a pair of vehicles. He also said the gunman had two hostages in a wooded area that were not harmed
Thorp said investigators are still trying to find a connection between the nursing home and the shooter.
“This is the situation, we don’t know the cause or purpose or what drove the individual to do this,” Thorp said.
Disario was expecting his seventh child with his wife and had only been chief about three weeks when the deadly shooting occurred.
Officers arrived at the Kirkersville nursing home just before 8 a.m. Friday to investigate calls about an active shooter at the facility in the 200 block of E Main Street.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted out condolences for the small Ohio village that’s home to just over 500 residents Friday morning and followed it up with an official statement several hours later.
“Ohio mourns the loss of Kirkersville Chief Eric Disario, who died in the line of duty,” he said. “Join me in praying for his family, friends and colleagues, and for the others injured in this tragedy. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”
Officials said Kirkersville Elementary was on lockdown after reports of the shooting. Students already inside were moved to a nearby middle school where they could be picked up by their parents.
Senior citizens inside the Pine Kirk Care center sheltered in place for about an hour but were eventually relocated to hospitals nearby, WHIO reported. Officers intend to interview witnesses who were inside the facility when the shooting occurred.
Thorp said there were 23 residents inside when the shooting occurred.
With BRIAN LISI