Monday, December 31, 2012

Oklahoma City, OK: Aspiring Olympic rower, 25, shot dead by girlfriend's 'obsessive' ex-boyfriend just weeks after he was denied protective order against 'killer'

A former star rower for University of Michigan who aspired to compete in the Olympics was shot and killed by his girlfriend’s former partner in a murder-suicide last week, according to police.

William Schnittman, 25, a Bloomfield Hills native, died Friday. He rowed for Michigan’s national championship squads in 2008-10, moving to Oklahoma City after graduation to train with the National High Performance Center.

Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said 36-year-old Darrell K. Wilson shot Schnittman, then took his former lover who was dating the 25-year-old rower hostage and sexually assaulted her before letting the woman go.

Nelson said Wilson fled police and fatally shot himself after a car chase.

According to reporting by NewsOK, both Schnittman and his 32-year-old girlfriend had sought protective orders against Wilson. The Olympic hopeful was denied the order earlier this month.

In a statement, USRowing chief executive Glenn Merry expressed ‘shock and sadness’ at Schnittman’s death.

'He was consumed with rowing, it is fair to say, and completely dedicated himself to it,' according to his letter.

'I was extremely proud to have coached him, and his unique personality always kept coaches and teammates on their toes. Anyone who coached or rowed with Bill has many, many stories to tell about him,' Hartsuff's statement read.

Police responded to a home on NW 39th Street in Oklahoma City at around 3am after receiving reports about a home invasion.

Officers who arrived on the scene saw Wilson holding Schnittman's girlfriend hostage in a Jaguar outside the house, but convinced him to let the woman go. The suspect then sped away.

When police searched the home, they discovered Schnittman, who suffered two gunshot wounds to the head. He was later pronounced dead. His girlfriend told investigators that Wilson had sexually assaulted her.

The woman's four children, aged one, two, five and nine, were found unharmed inside the house where the deadly confrontation took place.

A high-speed chase ensued, coming to an end on Interstate 35 when the 36-year-old driver appeared to have lost control of his car. When police approached the vehicle, they discovered that Wilson had shot himself to death.

Three weeks before the tragedy, Schnittman had filed a protective order against Wilson, claiming that the man had threatened him multiple times since September, and had been stalking him and sending death threats, according to court records cited by NewsOK.

'He again told me that his problems were my fault, that he was going to kill himself, and that his death was on my conscience,' Schnittman wrote, adding that Wilson told him he would 'take care of me” before he killed himself.'

However, Oklahoma County Special Judge Lisa K. Hammond denied Schnittman's request because he had not failed a police complaint about being stalked by Wilson.

Such a complaint is needed for protective petitions when the person seeking protection does not have a relationship with the person the order is directed against.

Schnittman's girlfriend also filed a protective order against Wilson, claiming that he had been harassing and stalking her for five months. The mother of four wrote that he had become obsessive and made attempts to kill himself in front of her kids.

‘While I don't think anyone could have predicted he would do this,’ the woman told Fox25 in the aftermath of the tragedy, ‘everyone who knew him, knew that he was unstable.’

Police confirmed to News9 that since March of this year, they had been called out to that house on NW 39th Street 26 times over various complaints.

According to Wilson's brother Kevin, the 36-year-old was distraught about being away from the children, and his estrangement from his life partner had taken a severe emotional toll on him.

Darrell Wilson had worked at Tinker Air Force Base for a defense logistics company, but had recently taken time off to address his mental health issues.

'He left a note at the home saying he was sorry he ruined Christmas and had left food and water for the dog,' Kevin Wilson said.

The suspect's sibling added, 'My family is devastated that Schnittman's life was taken. He's definitely a victim in this situation and we feel horrible about this.'

Schnittman, described by those who knew him as a star rower and a 'character,' had been training at the OKC National High Performance Center in the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River for two years in the hopes of making the national team.

He also coached young boys for the Oklahoma City Riversport Chesapeake Junior Crew program this past spring and had worked at two national team development camps, reported.

Between 2006 and 2010, Schnittman was an oarsman for University of Michigan's rowing team and served as a team officer for two years.

According to Coach Hartsuff, the rower 'pulled the 4th best Freshman 2K ever his freshman year, and Bill was the 5-seat in one of the fastest varsity eights I have coached here.'

'Anyone who coached or rowed with Bill has many, many stories to tell about him,' Hartsuff wrote.

OKC Riversport coach Jim Andersen said in a statement, 'Bill was a lovable character with his wild hair and goofy smile. He did a fantastic job coaching the kids and everyone loved him.'

Schnittman is survived by his parents, Arthur and Virginia, and his identical twin brother, Bob, who also briefly rowed for UM.

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