It began as a domestic call and escalated into a volatile situation.
Prosecutor Dan Fry says the 9-1-1 call came in at about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.
The caller said the 59-year-old man was in the house on Washington Road, threatening his family, and he had a weapon.*
The Belmont County Sheriff’s Department, Martins Ferry and Bridgeport Police responded.
“He was off his meds,” noted Rayla Palenicek, a neighbor. “He just didn’t take his meds and he went crazy.”
The prosecutor said officers approached, carefully assessing the situation.
They looked in the window and saw things were ramping up.
“It appeared that he was trying to light a fire inside the home,” said Fry. “And that’s when they decided to breach the house.”
“The main thing was getting the family members out of the house, which they did,” said Sheriff Dave Lucas. “It escalated from there. ”
Officials say the man was agitated.
When ordered to drop the weapon, he refused.
“The report that I have right now, which is preliminary, indicates that he was in fact tazed and it had no effect on him. And at that point, that’s when shots were fired.”
“I will say that it was a deputy sheriff of the sheriff’s office and a Martins Ferry Police officer that were involved in the shooting,” confirmed Sheriff Lucas.
“It’s sad that it had to happen but it’s best that it happened rather than him hurting somebody else,” noted Rayla Palenicek.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers, their families and also the family of the deceased,” said Sheriff Lucas.
Both officers who fired the shots–the Belmont County officer and the Martins Ferry Police officer–have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in cases of officer-involved shootings.
*We’ve clarified this statement to reflect new information that we’ve received.*