Huron County authorities search for gunman
May 14, 2014 at 11:36 PM
A potentially dangerous situation ended peacefully Monday afternoon -- hours after a rural Willard man reportedly threatened to shoot his estranged wife.
"In the end, it ended well and that's a real blessing," Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard said.
"I want to thank the special deputies who came in on short notice and brought a good outcome to this potentially dangerous situation," the sheriff said. "We had a lot of resources out there."
William Faulkner, 53, of 144 Ohio 99, Willard, was arrested without incident. He was charged with menacing by stalking and transported to the Huron County Jail. If convicted of the fourth-degree felony, Faulkner faces six to 18 months in prison.
Slightly after 2 p.m., Howard, Detective Sgt. Josh Querin, Detective Kayla Zander and Sgt. Steve Shupp found the suspect walking down North Greenfield Road near the Havana tavern. This was between 1 and 1 1/2 miles from Faulkner's home.
"Mr. Faulkner was taken into custody without any issues. He was not armed at the time," Querin said. "He appeared to be pretty intoxicated."
The detective said the sheriff's office doesn't plan to pursue any charges about Faulkner being drunk.
The situation started in the morning when the Norwalk Police Department received a call that Faulkner was headed for the Chicago 29 hair salon in the Norwalk Korners Plaza off Milan Avenue. Faulkner apparently threatened to go there "with an AK-47 and shoot his wife," Querin said. "The Norwalk Police Department told us he said he had plenty of ammunition."
The possible existence of the AK-47 remains under investigation.
Norwalk police went to the salon and had the customers leave. Then they waited there, making sure no one else entered the business.
About 10 or 10:15 a.m., police requested the assistance of the sheriff's office in locating Faulkner, since he lives outside Norwalk.
Norwalk police secured a warrant for Faulkner about 11 a.m.
"Numerous deputies were called in," Querin said.
For several hours, authorities closed the roads and had residents evacuate their homes near where they were searching for Faulkner. Ohio 99 near Troy Mill Road and Ohio 99 near Bauman Road were closed.
Willard Police Chief Mark Holden and several Willard officers responded to the scene.
"We definitely needed his assistance," Howard said. "We also had Willard Fire (& Rescue) on the scene just in case, God forbid, something went awry."
Prior to officers setting up a perimeter, they received a tip that Faulkner possibly was in a tree with an AK-47 "watching and pointing a gun at deputies from a distance," Querin said. Deputies weren't able to confirm that allegation.
When the tip came in, the sheriff made the decision to call in the ASORT team from Richland County. ASORT is a tactical team consisting of officers from the Mansfield, Ontario and Shelby police departments. Howard called in the squad about 11:30 a.m.
"They sent several units and arrived a short time later," Querin said.
Querin was asked about Faulkner's relationship with his wife.
"They recently split up. The are still legally married, but I believe a divorce was pending," the detective said. "I know they are separated at this time."
Querin also said he was involved in a drug investigation at the suspect's house about 18 months ago, but he wasn't aware of any other issues involving Faulkner and the sheriff's office.
"There were numerous marijuana plants on the premises and marijuana located in the residence," Querin said about the previous incident.
Howard was asked about the legitimacy of Faulkner's threats.
"We took it seriously, as did Norwalk police," the sheriff said, adding authorities took measures to make sure everyone was as safe as possible. "We took all the precautions we could."