'Terrible tragedy for the family' - Local man takes own life outside sheriff's office

Cary Ashby • Jan 31, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Authorities determined a 26-year-old Bellevue man shot himself in the head Wednesday morning near two Erie County office buildings.

The deceased subject has been identified as Jonathon K. Schaeffer, of 8611 E. Ohio 113.

"I talked to the family this (Wednesday) morning," Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

"(There's) no history of suicidal behavior. They indicated they don't know how he came in possession of a firearm or how he obtained it," Sigsworth said.

Authorities found Schaeffer's body in the lawn between the sheriff's office and Erie County Services Center about 7:20 a.m. Deputies recovered a .380 Smith and Wesson pistol, Winchester .380 shell casing, three matching bullets, a black leather wallet containing $566 in cash and some photographs at the scene.

"His family doesn't know why he was near the Erie County Services Center building," Sigsworth said.

Schaeffer worked for FedEx in Columbus until about three or four months ago when he moved back home. Sigsworth said the man had been working at the Brier Oak Hunt Club outside of Bellevue.

A sheriff's employee notified Chief Deputy Jared Oliver about Schaeffer's body laying in the lawn.

"I went outside and was met by a county maintenance worker. He directed me to where the subject was," Oliver said in his report.

The deputy found Schaeffer's body about 20 yards west of the parking lot for the sheriff's office.

"The male was not moving. As I approached the subject, I observed what appeared to be blood coming from his nose and the left side of his head. The subject was obviously deceased," said Oliver, who checked for, but didn't find a pulse.

An ambulance responded to the scene along with four deputies, Perkins Township Police Chief Ken Klamar and several other officers.

"Detective (Paul) Defazio and I inspected the subject. I observed what appeared to be a gunshot entrance wound near the subject's right ear. There was obvious trauma on the left side of the subject's head. I was not able to observe if it was an exit wound from a gunshot because his head was covered in a hoodie," reported Oliver, who used the Ohio driver's license in the man's wallet to identify him as Schaeffer.

"The listed weapon was found underneath Schaeffer's right leg, near the back of his knee. I located a shell casing and a bullet near his left foot. The second bullet was found in the chamber of the pistol. The third bullet was found in the magazine inside of the pistol," Oliver said.

Members of the Perkins Township Fire Department confirmed Schaeffer was dead. A deputy notified Erie County Coroner Dr. Brian Baxter, who responded to the scene.

"Dr. Baxter examined Schaeffer and determined that he had what appeared to be a close contact gunshot wound on the right side of his head," Oliver said.

The Lucas County Coroner's Office will perform an autopsy.

Deputies found Schaeffer's vehicle parked in the lot of the Erie County Highway Department and a cell phone that possibly was his in a Dumpster by the Erie County Services Center.

"Deputy (Joe) Pfeiffer told me that he observed Schaeffer walking in the drive of our parking lot at approximately 6:50 a.m.," Oliver said.

Also, Perkins Township Police Sgt. Jeff Musser reported hearing what sounded like a bus "back-firing" when he was outside in the parking lot about 7:05 a.m. Oliver's report indicates Musser "thought that noise came from the county garage."

"I think what he heard of the back-firing was the gunshot," Oliver told the Reflector.

Based on that information, Oliver said he suspects Schaeffer shot himself between 6:50 and 7:05 a.m.

The circumstances of why Schaeffer committed suicide remains a mystery.

"It's a terrible tragedy for the family," Sigsworth said. "The answer to the 'why question' isn't there; it may never be."

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