KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio (WCMH/WDTN) – The gunman who killed three people, including the Kirkersville Chief of Police, as well as the two other victims have been identified.
Local law enforcement tells 2 NEWS the suspect is 43-year-old Thomas Hartless. Records from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction show Hartless was imprisoned in Apil 2010 on and assault and abduction conviction in Knox County. Hartless was sentenced to two years in prison but was released in December 2010.
Late Friday, investigators identified the two women who were killed in the shooting. Cindy Krantz and Marlina Medrano were both employees of the Pine Kirk Care Center. The Coroner’s Office is still performing autopsies and more information is expected later.
The Licking County Coroner also told reporters it appears Hartless took his own life, but the investigation continues.
Investigators sayThe Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp, along with Attorney General Mike DeWine, held a news conference Friday afternoon to update the investigation into the shooting that killed a police chief and two nursing home workers.
DeWine said the gunman was hiding in some woods near the funeral home and took two passersby hostage for a brief time before shooting Police Chief Steve Disario. Sheriff Thorp said the two hostages were not harmed.
DeWine said the suspect’s car was found at a truck stop nearby. That car and another owned by the suspect will be searched. Officials say they do not know how the suspect got from the truck stop to the nursing home. DeWine also said the suspects home has been secured and search warrants for that property are being obtained.
Three people were found dead inside the nursing home as well. Sheriff Thorp told reporters the two nursing home employees are believed to be women.
36-year-old Steven Eric Disario has only been the chief of the departments for about three weeks, according to Thorp. The Sheriff said Disario has six children and one more child on the way.
Disarios’s body was moved to an area funeral home. The move was captured on camera by WDTN’s sister station WLWT.
The active shooter situation was first reported around 7:30 a.m. Friday in the 200 block East Main Street in Kirkersville at Pine Kirk Care Center.
Sheriff Thorp says Disario was found outside the Pine Kirk Care Center. Thorp says two employees of the center and the suspected gunman were found dead inside the nursing home.
Local Schools on Lock Down
Kirkersville Elementary School is on lockdown while police investigate. A heavy police presence is still located at the school. However, NBC4 reporter Dan Pearlman says all of the students who attend classes there have been safely moved to Watkins Middle Schools.
Parents can pick up their children from the middle school. Parents should NOT head to the elementary school.
“It was scary because I just put my kid on the bus and I didn’t know where he was going,” one parent told NBC4. “They didn’t call us till like 15-20 minutes later.”
“Any time, even if it’s not your school, just for it to be so close, you know, they have to be pretty vague on what it is, just let you know that everything is locked down, so, uh, that was a little alarming because all schools are locked down, so you’re not really sure what’s going on,” another parent told NBC4.
Response from State Officials
Several state officials reacted to the news of the shooting in Kirkersville on Twitter.
“Shocked & pained by the horrific shooting in Kirkersville,” Ohio Governor John Kasich said on Twitter. “Ask for prayers for those injured. Grateful for law enforcement’s quick response.”
“Heartbreaking news. Grateful to law enforcement who responded to the scene. Thinking of the officer, officer’s family & all involved,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D) on Twitter.
Brown released another statement Friday:
“Connie and I extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims in today’s tragic shooting, including Police Chief Disario’s family and the men and women of the Kirkersville Police Department. Chief Disario gave the ultimate sacrifice for his bravery and all of us are grateful to him and his family for their service to the community. As always, we are thankful to the first responders who acted to keep residents of the nursing home safe and to protect the surrounding community. My office stands ready to assist in any way it can as law enforcement continue to investigate.”
“My office and I stand ready to help our officers and all those affected in Kirkersville in any way possible,” said Senator Rob Portman (R) on Twitter.
Portman released a new statement Friday afternoon saying:
“Jane and I are heartbroken to hear of the death of Kirksersville Police Chief Steven Eric Disario, who was trying to keep safe the patients and staff at a nursing home in Kirkersville. We extend our deepest condolences to the Disario family and this community. As we begin police week, we remember the brave service of all police officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect us. We hope that everyone will join us in lifting up the family of this heroic officer in prayer.”
The Grove City Police Department posted condolences to their Twitter feed Friday:
About the Nursing Home
The Pine Kirk Care Center is located on East Main Street. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the facility holds 24 beds, which are certified for both Medicare and Medicaid.
The owner of the facility is listed as Living Care Alternatives of Kirkersville, Inc. As of May 3, 2017, there were 23 residents at the facility.
The village is about 24 miles east of Columbus.