'All he wanted was some General Tso’s chicken'
Nov 1, 2013 at 10:07 PM
“It’s just a sad day.”
That’s what Willard City Manager Brian Humphress called the aftermath of a three-hour standoff Wednesday at Family Dollar, 403 W. Walton St., in the city that resulted in the death of the gunman and one of his hostages.
“Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family of the victims and the people involved,” Humphress said Thursday. “It’s not something you expect to happen in a small town, but it can happen anywhere.”
The woman who was shot in the head has been identified as Kimberly Kelley, of New Washington. Willard Police Chief Mark Holden said he believes the victim is about 47 years old.
“I know she had three children. She was married,” he said Thursday.
An ambulance transported Kelley from the scene to Mercy Willard Hospital. A medical helicopter later flew her to another medical facility. Humphress said the Lucas County Coroner’s Office informed him of the victim’s death just after 11 p.m. Wednesday. Her time of death is unknown.
Shawn Schuett, 19, of rural Willard, was the gunman who shot Kelley before shooting himself at the end of the standoff.
“He originally was from Mansfield. He was living on Egypt Road,” Humphress said.
Holden said Schuett has family in Shelby and Willard.
A man who identified himself as Gary Schuett came to the police station about 10:45 a.m. Thursday. Before being interviewed by the chief, Schuett declined to be interviewed by a reporter and wouldn’t provide his relationship to Shawn Schuett.
“That’s the adopted father,” Holden said later.
The chief said police don’t have any motive, but said detectives have ruled out robbery. He also said the incident doesn’t appear to be drug-related and according to the surviving hostage, may be a random incident.
“With ruling out robbery, we don’t know what the circumstances are. We don’t want to speculate,” Holden said.
Police have determined Schuett was armed with a .22-caliber semi automatic Mossberg rifle, which he apparently bought at a federal fire license office.
“We believe it was very, very recently,” Holden said. “With a rifle, you don’t need to have a permit. … The ATF will do a trace.”
Jessica Click, who lived with Schuett, told the Reflector she dropped him off at Ace Hardware about 3:50 p.m. Wednesday. Ace shares the same shopping plaza as Family Dollar. Police have said Schuett entered Family Dollar about 5 p.m. with the rifle and barricaded himself inside with two women.
“The hostages were kept in the back of the store, between the aisles, so we couldn’t see them,” Holden said.
By 6 p.m., the city had closed down U.S. 224. The road was re-opened about 9:20.
(NOTE - Pictures of the hostage standoff are posted HERE.)
Agencies from across the state joined the local police to assist, including the Norwalk, Mansfield and Ontario police departments, the state Highway Patrol and Huron County Sheriff’s Office. Also at the scene were Willard Fire & Rescue, the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Two tactical teams surrounded the store — one in the front and the other in the back.
“Our negotiator told him, ‘You’re only looking at a robbery charge if you come out right now,’” Holden said. “He asked for nothing. All he wanted was some General Tso’s chicken.”
Police first were notified by a woman whom Schuett reportedly forced at gunpoint, with the rifle pointed to her chest, to drive him to Family Dollar, Holden said. Several emergency calls about Schuett came into the dispatch center following the woman’s cry for help.
Holden said Schuett barricaded the entrance with displays, shelves and shopping carts.
At one point, Schuett demanded to see his mother. Holden said the woman came to the scene and even after officers told her Schuett likely would shoot her, she still wanted to go inside, but police wouldn’t permit her to do so.
“I didn’t want to give him a third hostage,” Holden said. “He told her he was going to kill her. They were estranged at one point.”
Initially there was a third hostage, but Schuett released her.
“She somehow talked him into letting her go. He told her he wanted to make a statement,” Holden said.
JoAnn Sarver told the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune she was shopping at Family Dollar around 5 p.m. when a man wearing camouflage and several layers of clothing entered the store and ordered a female worker to barricade the doors.
Sarver, who works in Willard and often shops at Family Dollar, said she tried to remain calm and continued to talk to a woman behind the cash register as the door was being barricaded.
The man, who was holding what looked like a rifle, told the three women he was going to kill them, Sarver said. He even held the gun to them, she told the paper.
Sarver said to convince the man to let her go, she told him she didn’t have much money and that she would miss work.
The man, however, did not want money, she said. He told the women he wanted to send a message and that he would kill them, videotape it and put it on Facebook. Sarver said he took one of the women’s phones to use Facebook.
She said the man allowed her to keep her phone. While in the store, she called 911 numerous times, she told the paper. Unable to describe the situation to the dispatcher in front of the man, Sarver said she tried to find ways to get the dispatcher to send help, including telling the dispatcher that there were problems with her vehicle at Family Dollar. The dispatcher, who thought Sarver was trying to prank-call the police department, told her that she would be arrested if she kept calling, Sarver told the paper. Unable to get help from the police department, Sarver then called her ex-husband and tried the same tactics. He caught on and contacted police, she said.
“I was scared, I just wanted to get the cops there,” Sarver said.
Sarver said after police arrived, the man told her that she was going to deliver his message. He then allowed her to leave the store.
Sarver, who was uninjured, said she did not hear the man’s message.
After Schuett shot the victim and then himself, the other hostage ran out the back door of the store and notified police shots had been fired.
The patrol’s special response team then blew out the front windows. Officers entered the store to find the suspect deceased and Kelley lying on the floor with the gunshot wound.
During the three-hour ordeal, family members and townspeople gathered, but were kept far away from the scene. Firefighters and police alike warned the citizens they were in “the line of fire” and must keep back.
One of Schuett’s family members wept after learning the young man shot Kelley and then took his own life.
“He really was a nice boy. He believed in God, but he had stopped taking his medication,” said Serena Shepherd, a family member of another woman who was looking after Schuett for the last year.
Shepherd said Schuett had been living in various homes throughout his youth before ending up at a residence on Egypt Road, just outside Willard. He started living there about a year ago.
Willard police said they had no prior run-ins with Schuett and didn’t know what triggered the violence that shook the normally quiet city.
“We’re without a motive. We’re without a lot of crucial information,” Holden said. “I’ve never had a hostage situation like this in 20 years.”
The chief estimated it might take as much as three weeks to complete the investigation.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reflector correspondent Heather Chapin-Fowler and managing editor Joe Centers contributed to this story.