Monday, November 26, 2012
MARION — A preliminary investigation suggests the Sunday evening shooting of an armed man by county sheriff’s officers may be a case of “suicide by cop.”
The term describes the act of engaging in a behavior that leads a police officer to respond with deadly force. Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey said officers heard from Byron L. Holveck’s girlfriend, Heather Nightwine, that he told her earlier in the day he was going to “commit suicide by cop.”
Maj. Aaron Corwin and Deputy Michael Wheeler, the two officers involved in the shooting, remain on administrative leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification takes the lead in the investigation.
Officers arrived at the Pleasant Acres mobile home park at 3200 Smeltzer Road after receiving 9-1-1 calls at 10:14 p.m. from Holveck’s girlfriend and neighbors saying shots had been fired during a domestic dispute.
Holveck, 40, had allegedly threatened his girlfriend and a neighbor. Arriving officers found Holveck armed and acting violent.
Authorities later found that Holveck had a Gamo CO2 pellet gun, which closely resembles a Walther PPK semi-automatic handgun.
“It was dark, between two of those narrow homes,” Bailey said.
He said the gun, which officers asked him to drop, was not clearly visible.
“He whipped it around, pointed it at them and charged them,” he said. They shot, striking Holveck.
He was taken to Marion General Hospital then transported to Grant Medical Center in Columbus, where he was pronounced dead.
Nightwine’s daughter was home at the time but not injured.
The sheriff’s office is assisting in the investigation as Bailey said they try to determine what led up to the incident.
Shots had been fired before 9 p.m., but no one had called 9-1-1 until shots were fired again at about 10:14 p.m. Shots were fired both inside and outside of the mobile home.
Investigators heard that Holveck had been drinking earlier in the evening, but Bailey said that hasn’t been confirmed because the autopsy isn’t done yet.
The shooting happened on the anniversary of Holveck’s wife’s death.
“I think that certainly played a role in his acting out,” the sheriff said.
A records check of the Marion County Common Pleas Court showed Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance of Cincinnati had recently filed a case against Holveck stating that he defaulted in payments. He had listed the 1998 Champion manufactured mobile home at Lot 31 as collateral and the mortgage company sought to take possession, saying he owed $19,675.63.
Investigators are waiting on the autopsy, which will tell whether Holveck had any alcohol or drugs in his system. It also will tell how many rounds hit him and from which officer’s weapon.
Bailey, nearing 40 years with the sheriff’s office, said he and Chief Deputy Al Hayden, who had been there for 40 years, cannot remember any other incident during that time in which they had to shoot and kill someone.
Corwin and Wheeler will receive counseling. They may be called back on desk duty if needed but otherwise will remain on leave.
That leaves the sheriff’s office with one major on active duty. It drops the number of officers on road patrol down from 15 to 11.
One officer is on disability leave and another is on special assignment, taking the place of an officer usually assigned to Tri-Rivers Career Center who is out with an injury.
Officers continue to work 12-hour instead of eight-hour shifts to make sure there are enough officers patrolling the county.
Along with BCI, the sheriff’s office had called in the Franklin County Bomb Squad on Monday to look at a metal box in Holveck’s vehicle. Along with calling in BCI, the sheriff’s office had called in the Franklin County Bomb Squad on Monday to look at a metal box in Holvecks’ vehicle. The bomb squad used a robot to remove and x-ray the box, which ended up containing ammunition and a gun cleaning kit.