LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Liberty police were involved in a shoot-out with a suspect at a busy intersection, with video provided by witnesses showing multiple shots fired between them.
The incident started Friday afternoon around 3 p.m. at the intersection of Belmont Avenue and East Liberty Street.
People driving down busy Belmont Avenue witnessed the terrifying scene. Witnesses said it was a scary situation. You can hear the fear in callers’ voices as they called 911.
911 Caller: Somebody literally just got out of their car, walked up to another car and shot somebody right in their face.
911 Dispatcher: OK, so someone was shot?
911 Caller: Yes, someone was shot in his face.
Initial calls to 911 said the victim was bleeding from the head.
911 Caller: It looks like his face was cut wide open. I mean, he is pouring blood.
911 Caller: He is breathing. He’s listening to music and dancing with his hands. I don’t think he comprehends what’s going on.
Police said he was driven to the hospital before EMS arrived. He was then flown to a Cleveland area hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police are still working to identify him.
By the time officers got to the scene, they said they saw the Hummer drive onto East Liberty Street. They conducted a traffic stop near Ohio Puppy, but the suspect got out of the vehicle and began shooting at the officers, hitting one of the patrol vehicles.
One witness, Paul Grant, said he was getting off the Interstate 80 exit when he saw the shoot-out with police on East Liberty Street, so he started recording.
“They both started shooting at each other. Shots went on for about 40 seconds and then a couple more Liberty PD cruisers rolled in behind them, rolled out, a shoot-out ensued, and I don’t know, after about another 30 or 40 seconds, they were able to shoot him and drop him,” he said.
According to police, while officers returned gunfire, they hit the suspect, who was taken to the hospital in stable condition. Police are withholding the suspect’s identity pending further investigation. Charges against him are pending.
Three magazines for a semi-automatic handgun were on the pavement behind a Liberty police cruiser that was parked behind the black Hummer with significant bullet damage. The Hummer was parked on the side of East Liberty Street.
Grant said he also witnessed a female passenger take cover on the ground during the shooting.
Police detained a woman at the scene, but it is unclear whether she was involved in the incident.
No officers were hurt during the shoot-out.
Carrie Deabler was in the hotel pool at the Days Inn across the street from Ohio Puppy when she thought she heard gunshots.
“I’m doing my laps and I’m heading that direction on the pool and I heard “pow, pow, pow” and I snap around like what was that?” Deabler said.
Deabler is a retired psychiatric nurse and ended up comforting a woman and her husband who saw the shooting.
“She was so traumatized. She held onto me and held onto me and I just held her too. You can’t stay with them forever, everyone has their lives and stuff but she’s going to be hurting for a while after this,” Deabler said.
Grant said incidents like this make him fearful for his family and himself.
“Worried about my kids, yeah. I have an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old and I mean, they could have been right there,” Grant said.
The incident led to a massive police response, with officers from multiple agencies blocking off the intersection as well as an exit from Interstate 80.
Three Liberty police officers were placed on paid administrative leave as standard protocol.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to the scene and is handling the officer-involved shooting. The Liberty Police Department is handling the initial shooting.