Copley Shooting Tragedy
Ten minutes of terror rock a close-knit community that has come together for healing.
Last Sunday's shooting spree in Copley Township left eight dead, including the gunman, Michael Hance. His victims were his neighbors and family members of his girlfriend, Rebecca Dieter, who remains hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. The dead are: 16-year-olds Autumn Johnson and Amelia Shambaugh, Johnson's father and grandparents Bryan Johnson, Gudrun and Russell Johnson, and Craig Dieter and his 11-year-old son Scott Dieter.
The sole survivor remains hospitalized as police continued their investigation. What follows is a chronology of events of the last six days.
Police receive the first 911 call Aug. 7 at 10:56 a.m
Police from Copley Township, and officers from the Akron Police, Summit Metro SWAT and the Summit County Sheriff's Department responded quickly, but the shooting spree was over in just over 10 minutes.
Bob McCrady, a neighbor of Dieter and Hance, told Fairlawn-Bath Patch that a woman who lived nearby with her boyfriend escaped the home they shared and sought refuge with the McCradys.
"The boyfriend just lost it and started shooting," McCrady said.
Motives still under investigation
Numerous published reports have indicated that Dieter and Hance often argued, and that the couple had financial troubles that ended in the loss of their home in Akron. Dieter and Hance may also have had family troubles since they moved into the house owned by Dieter's deceased parents – a home that Dieter's relatives allegedly wanted sold. Neighbors also allegedly complained to Hance about the condition of the house. Hance is said to have ordered one of his victims off the property in the days before the shootings.
Rumors of mental problems, no previous criminal record
Carrie Silket, a lifelong neighbor of the Johnson family, said Hance was odd, and hinted that some of his behavior caused concern among the neighbors. "Unfortunately in these days, in our society, when people are mentally ill, there's nothing you can do until tragedy strikes. He was just not well," Silket said. "...Unless you can prove someone is a threat there is nothing you can do."
Police have said they are not yet sure of what motive Hance might have had, or his mental condition, or whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the shooting. Hance, 51, who grew up in Norton, does not appear to have had a previous criminal background.
"It's heartwrenching to see something of this nature," Copley Police Chief Michael Mier said in a news conference on Tuesday, "because you know there was no sense to it."
The shooting began on Goodenough Avenue just before 11 a.m. Aug. 7. Hance chased at least two of his victims – Bryan Johnson and Scott Dieter – through the neighborhood on Schocalog Road and shot them to death.
In just over ten minutes all eight were dead, including Hance. He was shot when Copley Police officer Ben Campbell and former Copley officer Keith Lavery encountered him outside 1219 Schocalog Rd. According to police and 911 calls, Hance had chased the young Dieter into the house and killed him there.
Police said Hance used two pistols. They are not sure whether he reloaded. The weapons were purchased at a local pawn shop five days before the shooting.
Medical examinations of the victims were completed earlier this week. According to the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office, the victims probably died quickly. All but one had been shot in the head at least once.
A final report on the autopsies will be issued in 10 to 12 weeks.
The bullet that struck Hance in the chest and killed him was removed by medical examiners and given to police investigators to determine whether the shot that killed Hance came from Campbell or the former officer. Police said Hance was shot when he refused to drop his weapon.
Copley Police Chief Michael Mier has said police believe the fatal shot came from officer Campbell, who is on administrative leave pending the outcome of a use-of-force investigation by the Summit County Sheriff's Department.
Community heals together
In the wake of the shootings, Copley Township has stepped up to care for its own. Several benevolent accounts have been opened to collect donations for surviving family members, Copley-Fairlawn Schools have offered counseling to anyone who requests help, students and the community have held their own memorials and host social media memorial pages. Local churches also have have opened their doors for prayer gatherings and counseling. Check here ongoing list of charitible and memorial events.
Funerals for the victims were held this week.
Fairlawn-Bath Patch freelance reporter Jessica Contrera contributed to this report.