CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) — After a Thursday night shooting left a suspect dead and a Ross County Sheriff’s Deputy in the hospital, the Chillicothe community is feeling shock.
The shootout happened around 5 p.m. directly outside the sheriff’s office — in the heart of downtown Chillicothe. It also happened on the eve of the community’s holiday tree lighting.
Many are left with questions nearly 24 hours later, including Bernie Evans, the owner of a nearby stained glass studio just a block from where gunfire was exchanged.
“I was a firefighter for 29 years, and he actually ran on our fire department, too. I’ve probably known him five, six years or so,” Evans said in an interview.
Evans said he was praying for Sgt. Eric Kocheran, who was shot in the exchange with suspect Nicholas Mitchell. Mitchell, 42, later died in a Chillicothe-area hospital from related injuries, while Kocheran remains in serious condition at Grant Medical Center in Columbus.
“He is a super nice guy, would do anything for you, and everybody loves him,” Evans said of Kocheran.
Kay Hall, who has lived in Chillicothe her entire life, said she never thought something like this would take her small town.
“Everybody that I’ve talked to today and last night do have questions about what happened,” Hall said. “I raised my children here. I never had those worries, and I don’t want my grandchildren to have worries about having to be downtown, and our police department having worries going out the back door and something like this happening to them.”
Halls said she too was praying for Kocheran.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office.