Almost immediately, Copley Township (Ohio) Police Chief Michael Mier realized he had an active shooter on his hands on Sunday in his small northeast Ohio town of 17,000 residents.
Initial 911 calls came into the regional dispatch center reporting shots fired in the neighborhood of single-family homes. Additional calls revealed that the shooter was running through the neighborhood firing at people.
By the time 51-year-old Michael Hance had finished his rampage, eight people were dead — including three children — at four homes in the usually sleepy neighborhood.
The shootings began around 11 a.m. at a home on Goodenough Avenue where Hance lived with his girlfriend, 49-year-old Rebecca Dieter, who was shot multiple times and is the only survivor of the massacre. Hance's anger toward his girlfriend apparently set off the rampage.
Five other people were shot at two Goodenough Avenue homes, including Craig Dieter, 51; Russell Johnson, 67; Gudrun "Gertie" Johnson, 64; Autumn Johnson, 16; and Amelia Shambaugh, 16.
Hance apparently then chased three other people including Bryan Johnson, 44; Scott Dieter, 11; and a third man. Hance shot Bryan Johnson at a third house, and tracked Scott Dieter into a fourth home. Hance apparently found the boy hiding in a basement and killed him.
A graphical map of the crime scene appeared in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
A Copley police officer who arrived at the scene was joined by a former Copley officer who had left the department to take a job as a law enforcement trainer and still lived in the neighborhood. The two men confronted Hance, who threatened them with a weapon. Both fired and Hance fell after he was fatally struck by two .223 rounds from the Copley officer's AR-15.
As the incident began to unfold, the Copley police department — with its 27 officers — immediately asked for mutual aid while responding to the incident, Chief Mier tells POLICE Magazine. Five agencies were eventually brought in to help set up a perimeter, secure crime scenes and collect evidence.
Chief Mier immediately requested mutual aid from nearby Fairlawn PD, who sent patrol officers, and Akron PD, who sent crime scene investigators. The Summit County Sheriff sent regional SWAT officers and investigators. Also, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) sent its crime-scene investigators.
Multiple responders required close coordination, Chief Mier said. Summit Metro SWAT officers maintained the perimeter, secured crime scenes, and relieved officers from the hot sun.
The chief sent sheriff's investigators to the fourth house where the officer-involved shooting occurred, as well as the shooting of Scott Dieter.
"Because we had an officer used in a use-of-force issue, I had the Summit County Sheriff process that one," Chief Mier said. "They will do the use-of-force shooting investigation as an independent agency."
The chief sent investigators from Akron PD and the Ohio BCI to the other homes. "Those agencies have a lot of crime-scene detectives, and there was a lot of work to do there," Chief Mier said.
Two Copley detectives will lead the case, which will involve coordinating reporting with the four other agencies involved in evidence collection, photography, numerous witness interviews, and forensic investigations that include the county medical examiner.
By Paul Clinton