Copley Township authorities have identified six of the seven victims, as well as the gunman, in a Sunday morning shooting spree in an otherwise quiet community.
“We cannot say for sure who was shot first,” said Copley Police Chief Mike Mier during a news conference this afternoon. “This is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends who lost their lives yesterday. No words can describe the loss.”
The Copley shooting spree started just before 11 a.m. Sunday at a house in the 2300 block of Goodenough Avenue. In all, police said there were four different crime scenes where gunman, Michael Hance, 51, shot eight people, killing seven of them.
Police then shot and killed Hance after he fired at officers.
At 10:55 a.m. on Sunday, the first 911 call came into the department from a woman on Goodenough Avenue reporting a man with a gun. Shortly after the first call, a second 911 call came in from a resident on Schocalog Road. You hear a woman crying as she reported hearing gun shots.
The dispatcher told her to stay in her basement.
Among the dead, Copley-Fairlawn High School student Autumn Johnson, 16, and another 16-year-old student, whose name is not being released until her family is notified.
Autumn’s father, Bryan Johnson, 44, along with her grandparents Russell Johnson, 67, and Gudrun Johnson, 64, were also shot and killedby Hance during the massacre, police said.
Craig Dieter, 51, and his son, Scott Dieter, 11, who were in town from Kentucky to visit Hance’s girlfriend, Rebecca Dieter, 49, were also shot and killed. Hance’s girlfriend, Rebecca, is in the intensive care unit at a local hospital after being shot multiple times by Hance, police said.
The order in which the victims were shot is still under investigation.
The Dieter family released a statement read by Chief Mier: “Our family has suffered a loss too deep for words. Please respect our privacy as we grieve. Thank you to all. Continue to pray for us.”
A Facebook page, R.I.P Johnson Family, has been created to remember Autumn. Friends of the high schooler have posted pictures to music to remember their friend. Love and support is pouring in from others on the page who don’t even know her.
Hance has no prior record. Detectives said Hance used two hand guns in the rampage but it’s unclear if he reloaded the gun. It’s also unknown how many shots were fired.
The motive remains unknown. Police continue to investigate.
Mier said Copley Township enjoys a low crime rate and, in particular, a very low violent crime rate. He said the area where this happened is safe and has been safe.
“It’s unfortunate something of this magnitude took place.”
Copley Trustee Dale Panovich said, “I, and some other trustees, live in this area where the incident took place. We feel very safe in our neighborhood. It was a very unfortunate incident. A tragedy like this here is unheard of.”