KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed one of the nurses shot and killed at a nursing home Friday had a relationship with the gunman.
“Without going into things that we don’t really know yet, one of the victims had a relationship with the shooter. I think that’s very clear,” DeWine told reporters.
Police say 43-year-old Thomas Hartless went to Pine Kirk Care Center where he hid in nearby woods before taking two men hostage.
A brief time later, Police Chief Steve Disario arrived at the scene and was shot and killed by Hartless.
Hartless then forced his way inside the nursing home, shooting the lock on the door – according to the home’s owner – and killing two employees: Cindy Krantz and Marlina Medrano.
The Licking County Coroner said it appears Hartless then took his own life.
Hartless has a criminal record. In 2010, he was imprisoned on an assault and abduction conviction. In January, he was arrested for domestic violence in January.
The nursing home’s owner, Tom Rosser said he was aware one of the victims had a relationship with the shooter that involved domestic violence at, at least one point.
“There was an incident where one of our staff was harmed by her partner and he was temporarily incarcerated,” Rosser said.
He said Hartless was released recently, in the past 30 days.
He said he thought things had “settled down” until this morning’s incident.
Rosser noted relationships that involve domestic violence are not uncommon in the industry.
“The staff care are caregivers and they attempt to not only take care of residents, but take care of spouses and significant others,” Rosser said.
“So you run into a situation where you have a partner, a wife usually – sometimes a husband, who’s trying to fix their partner. So we do run into this with some regularity.”
DeWine said officials have spoken with the families of the victims and offered condolences.
“This is just a horrible day,” DeWine said. “It’s a horrible day for this community. It’s a horrible day for the county and the state.