Monday, January 31st, 2011
By Shelley Grieshop
State investigates fatal shooting of former officer
ST. MARYS - Local law enforcement and state agents remained tight-lipped this morning about a shooting Friday night that claimed the life of a former St. Marys police officer.
Dennis R. Slone, 42, was shot and killed by an Auglaize County Sheriff's deputy after exiting his SUV with a handgun about 6 p.m. at the Rough Rider Express Marathon gas station in St. Marys.
No one else was injured.
Prior to the shooting, Slone led several sheriff's deputies and St. Marys Police officers on a 1.5-mile, low-speed chase from state Route 66 near U.S. 33 to the gas station. Officers were pursuing Slone after a call was placed to the sheriff's department saying Slone was going to kill himself or someone else.
Slone, who was married and had a daughter, served on the St. Marys Police force from November 1995 until February 1997 when he was "let go," Chief Greg Foxhoven said.
"He failed to successfully complete the probationary period," he said, adding Slone's one-year probation period was extended before he eventually was terminated.
Foxhoven would not provide details of Slone's employment or speculate why he chose to drive from Waynesfield to St. Marys with a gun.
"It speaks volumes," was Foxhoven's only comment.
Authorities refuse to say whether the incident may be a "suicide by cop" - a term used when subjects motivate officers to shoot them by waving a weapon in their direction.
Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon avoided numerous questions about the incident.
"I will not damage the integrity of this case," he said this morning, adding the investigation is being handled by the Ohio Bureau of Investigation (BCI) and Identification.
BCI spokeswoman Lisa Peterson Hackley this morning said the agency will not release any information until the investigation is complete. She could not provide a timeframe when the report would be made public.
Because the incident involved a death, the case will be presented to an Auglaize County grand jury, Solomon said.
Two sheriff's deputies - including the one who fired the fatal shot(s) - were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting, he said. Solomon said he believes the officers at the scene followed appropriate protocol for the situation.
According to a press release, the sheriff's office received a call shortly before 6 p.m., stating a subject was traveling toward St. Marys with a gun and "was intending to shoot himself or others." The call was not a 911 call, Solomon said, but he refused to say how it was received or who placed it.
Three sheriff's deputies and three St. Marys police officers began the pursuit at speeds under 30 mph with lights and sirens activated. Officials said it appeared Slone used turn signals and other safety measures to avoid placing the public in danger.
Following the shooting, officers administered CPR and other life-saving measures to Slone until he was taken by squad to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys. County coroner Dr. Thomas Freytag pronounced him dead at the hospital.
Slone's body was transported to the Lucas County Coroner's Office in Toledo. His funeral is slated for Saturday at Waynesfield Baptist Church.
Slone retired from Airstream in Jackson Center and had served as a lieutenant on the Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years. The U.S. Army veteran also served as an auxiliary peace officer for the Wapakoneta Police Department.
All the law enforcement officers involved - including troopers with the Wapakoneta post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol - have been affected by the tragedy, officials said.
"It's been difficult for everybody," Foxhoven said.
Four officers currently on his staff worked alongside Slone during his brief employment.
Foxhoven and Solomon said their priority now is to help their officers deal with the tragedy.
"Our guys are pretty upset," Solomon said, adding counseling and debriefing measures are ongoing.
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