Friends of Kirkersville shooting victim say tragedy could’ve been prevented

KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – The heartbroken community of Kirkersville found comfort in each other Sunday at special vigil held at Kirkersville United Methodist to remember the lives of Kirkersville Police Chief Eric DiSario and nursing homes workers Cindy Krantz and Marlina Medrano, who were killed Friday when a gunman opened fire inside the Pine Kirk Care Center.

Friends of Medrano describe her as a fun, free-spirited woman.

“Always brings smiles to you. When your down, she brings you up in a heartbeat,” close friend Jennifer Beltagy said. “Her soul was just beautiful.”

A community of less than 600–shaken by tragedy–found healing in each other Sunday inside and outside a Kirkersville house of worship.

“There are no words that I can offer that will remove the heart ache,” Rev. Matthew Van Winkle said. “There are no words that I can provide that’ll heal the wounds.”

Jennifer Beltagy and Lisa Sweitzer have been best friends with Marlina Medrano for over 20 years.

“She was always happy,” Beltagy said. “Always found good always found the positive in any negative situation or someone that was bad to her she always found something good in them. Obviously to a fault.”

Medrano’s ex boyfriend Thomas Hartless, who police say carried out the shooting, specifically targeted Medrano. Beltagy and Sweitzer say Hartless and Medrano met a few months ago and started dating.

According to court documents, Hartless was sentenced on March 23rd to 90 days in jail for beating Medrano. He was released on April 11th after serving 19 days behind bars.

“The last thing that she said to me four days ago was that she was scared to death to go home,” Beltagy said. “She didn’t want to go home. She didn’t feel safe.”

That’s why Beltagy says she went into hiding in nearby Perry County with her son and sought a protection order against Hartless. She remained working as a nurse at Pine Kirk Care Center because Beltagy says she felt the most safe there.

Friends say Medrano did everything she could to protect herself and her family, but the justice system did not.

“He should’ve stayed in jail or he should have been put in a mental institution,” Sweitzer said. “This is all on the Licking County judge’s hands.”

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