Copley Township in shock after gunman kills 7 during shooting rampage

August 8th, 2011 by Staff

COPLEY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - The small community of Copley Township is in shock after a gunman went on shooting spree Sunday, killing seven people before he was shot and killed by police.

“It’s a tragedy. It’s, it’s pretty bad,” said a neighbor who used to babysit for the family.

Police said a family argument sparked by an out-of-town guest’s visit led to the shooting rampage on Goodenough Avenue just before 11 a.m. on Sunday. In all, the gunman shot eight people before firing at police, when an officer returned fire, killing him. Seven of the gunman’s victims died and another is in the intensive care unit at Akron General Hospital.

More than 100 people gathered at Copley Community Park Sunday evening for a prayer vigil for the victims, including many classmates of a 17-year-old girl killed. Friends identified her as Autumn Johnson — a student at Copley High School.

“Her and I have been best friends since fourth grade,” said Emily Ehern. “Her grandparents were like mine. It’s going to be hard losing her.”

Police have not released any names yet, but family members and friends gave NewsChannel5 some of the victim’s names during the vigil Sunday evening:

- Autumn Johnson, 17 (Copley High School student)
- Russ Johnson (Autumn’s grandfather)
- Gertie Johnson (Autumn’s grandmother)
- Brian Johnson (Son or Russ & Gertie)
- Scotty Deiter, 11

“You’re hearing so many stories from everywhere. Who knows what the truth… will we ever find the truth? Probably not. Probably not,” said Tammi Simon, who attended the vigil.

“I just want peace for the family. I don’t need to understand why or anything,” said Lisa Blachaniec.

Closer to the shooting scene, neighbors said they hoped the anger that perpetuated the shooting could have been directed elsewhere.

“That hurts me so bad,” said Patricia Kerby, whose brother lives next door to the house where the shooting happened.

Kerby’s brother and nephew tried to help after hearing the gunfire.

“My nephew was being chased by the guy with the gun, and he tried to save the little boy that was killed right in front of my nephew’s eyes,” said Kerby.

Others questioned the gunman’s decision that resulted in the deaths of so many.

“There are other ways to deal with anger other than killing people. I mean, there’s an 11-year-old girl there. What did she do to this dude? And then you have two 17-year-old girls that went to Copley, which is the school I went to. What could they have said to this man to make him want to chase them down and kill all of them, “said Willie Cook, a neighbor who graduated from Copley High in 2001.

NewsChannel5 will continue to follow this developing story and will be at a noon news conference Monday. Keep checking newsnet5.com for more information.


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