COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The man who died in a shootout with Columbus police officers has been identified and comes with prior convictions along with an open warrant.
According to a release by the Division of Police, Austin Huntzinger, 29, of Columbus, was the armed suspect gunned down in a shootout with police Wednesday morning at a shopping plaza parking lot on Great Southern Boulevard.
At 6:52 a.m. a 911 call from a nearby witness alerted officers to an alleged robbery in progress in the Far South neighborhood. Less than two minutes later two officers engaged in gunfire with the armed suspect. Police recovered multiple firearms at the scene.
Huntzinger was taken to Grant Medical Center and pronounced dead at 7:21 a.m. One of the officers, a 15-year-veteran, was critically injured during the shooting and also taken to Grant Medical Center. He was later upgraded to stable condition.
According to court records, Huntzinger had an open warrant from a June 29 incident in which he is charged with eluding an officer in a vehicle, as well as obstructing official business. The alleged incident took place at Obetz Road and South High Street, across the street from where Wednesday’s shooting took place. That warrant was issued by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
“That was a dangerous criminal,” said Columbus PoliceDeputy Chief Elrico Alli. “He had a warrant, he needed to be taken off the street long before yesterday, but it’s unacceptable for anyone to shoot at police officers. So, we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure a person like that is off the street so that they can’t hurt anyone else.”
He also has a criminal history in which he received three years of community control for a felonious assault committed in November 2019. Charges of kidnapping were dropped in that case.
Additionally, in 2018 he was sentenced to two years of community control for aggravated menacing. He later was sentenced to 30 days in jail with five days suspended after his probation was revoked in August of 2020, after he received his sentence for felonious assault.
Huntzinger was also facing a weapons while under disability charge out of Knox County. He was arrested on June 6, posted 10 percent of his $5,000 bond on June 7 and was scheduled for a criminal jury trial hearing on September 19.
Huntzinger’s death marked the 10th time this year that Columbus police officers fired shots at people, in many cases exchanging gunfire with suspects. The south side shootout was the second shooting since July that an officer has been seriously injured.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said his goal is to have more officers on the streets than ever before by the end of next year. Another key, he said, to reducing violence in the city is addressing the proliferation of guns. He said firearms are used in 90% of homicides within city limits.
“We need judges and prosecutors to step up and keep those people off the street,” Ginther said.
No other injuries were reported Wednesday to either the robbery victim or the other officer involved, which CPD noted is a 12-year veteran. Columbus police is not releasing the names of the officers, saying it’s protected information under Marsy’s Law, which covers crime victims’ rights
Another unidentified person was taken into custody for questioning as the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation continues to investigate the shooting, which is standard procedure with all officer-involved shootings.