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Killer slapped woman before opening fire

Courtney Astolfi • Nov 29, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Three men are dead and one wounded after a gunman opened fire inside Fremont's Last Call Bar early Sunday morning. 

The shooter remains unidentified and on the run as of Sunday evening, police said.

Off-duty Elmore police Officer Jose "Andy" Chavez, 26, and bartender Ramiro Sanchez, 28, both died at the scene.

Daniel Ramirez, 25, a relative of Andy's, was rushed to Fremont Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

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Another relative, Ramiro Arreola, 25, was flown by medical helicopter to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, but a family member told the Register his injuries were not life-threatening, and they expect him to be released in the next day or two.

Fremont police received an emergency call at 1:29 a.m. Sunday, notifying them of shots fired at the West State Street bar, Fremont police Chief Tim Wiersma said.

When they arrived at the scene one minute later, the shooter had already fled on foot, Wiersma said.

Officers did, however, arrest the man who accompanied the shooter to the bar, Wiersma said.

Hugo Ibarra, 37, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction after he refused to answer investigators' questions.

Ibarra posted a cash bond and was released from the Sandusky County jail at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, according to jail records.

“He's not been cooperating at all,” Wiersma said.

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While Wiersma could shed little light on the circumstances leading up to the gunfire, he did say that an altercation took place inside the bar prior to the shooting.

Manuel Chavez, an uncle to both Andy Chavez and the wife of Daniel Ramirez, offered details of that fight during an interview with the Register.

According to Manuel, the shooter had approached his niece “Bernie” Ramirez inside the bar. Manuel was unsure how they knew one other but said she was indeed familiar with him.

“Some guy said, 'Hey, I heard you're talking crap about me',” Manuel said of that interaction. The woman then told him to go away, at which point the man slapped her, Manuel said.

“When that happened, all hell broke loose—my nephews jumped on this guy,” Manuel said.

The gunman, nicknamed Puppet, was then either told to leave or kicked out of the bar. But he slipped back inside through a side door and began unleashing rounds, Manuel said.

“The way they're making it sound, he walked in the side door and saw my nephews. He shot at them and took off running,” Manuel said.

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A bullet penetrated Andy through his upper body and struck Ramiro “Juni” Arreola in the back of his shoulder, Manuel said.

Another bullet pierced the left side of Daniel's chest and a third struck Ramiro Sanchez. It remains unclear if Sanchez, the bartender, was caught in the fray accidentally.

“I understand that he had made some attempt to intervene,” Wiersma said.

Police do not yet know what kind of weapon was used or how many rounds were unleashed, Wiersma said.

Before they went to the bar Saturday night, the group had been at the Fremont home of Manuel's son for a birthday party thrown for Andy's 9 or 10-year-old daughter, Chavez said.

After the party concluded, Daniel Ramirez suggested they go out to the Last Call Bar to celebrate Andy's own birthday—he had turned 26 earlier this week.

Manuel received a call from his brother around 2:30 a.m. “He said Andy was gone already. Daniel was hit and Juni was hit,” Manuel recounted.

He sped to the hospital, but Daniel died just as he arrived.

“They weren't bad guys, they stayed out of trouble. Something just went wrong that night,” Chavez said.

Andy had been a police officer in Elmore—a village about 20 minutes northwest of Fremont— for two years, Manuel said.

“He was a nice person, he helped people out a lot, whoever was in trouble. A great father to his kids and wife and well-respected in the town of Elmore. He was a fun guy, he'd make you laugh and everything,” Manuel said of his nephew Andy.

And Daniel was much the same, Manuel said of his niece's husband.

“He was in the reserves, overseas in South Korea for a couple years. He just started truck driving with other relatives. Daniel was also a real nice guy, he gave a lot of love to everybody and he liked to play volleyball. He's a loving father and husband who would do anything for his family,” Manuel said.

Both of the men's wives were with them at the bar, along with other relatives.

Andy left behind his wife Amber, their daughter Mira and a toddler son.

Daniel left behind his wife Bernie, and three children, each under the age of 11, Manuel said.

A second Fremont shooting was reported on Allen Street near the Night Riders Motorcycle Club about 45 minutes after the Last Call shooting, Wiersma said.

Later, Cardell Beachum, 44, showed up at Fremont Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Beachum gave no details of the shooting other than a large man who he did not know was to blame.

The Last Call shooter, Wiersma said, was described as a small man.

Police do not believe the two incidents are connected, Wiersma said.

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents were still processing the scene as of late Sunday morning but had left the area by about noon.

Officers also rounded up witnesses immediately after the shooting for questioning as there were more than 20 people inside the bar when it occurred, Wiersma said.

"There was a lot of mass confusion," Wiersma said. 

Interviews continued into Sunday afternoon. “We're trying to interview as many people as we can today while its still fresh in their minds,” Wiersma said.

Wiersma anticipated showing photo lineups to witnesses in an attempt to identify the gunman in the near future. 

A nearby business manager, Sal Abbulone, of AJ's Heavenly Pizza said the area is generally safe. 

Abbulone does not believe the shooting will keep people from visiting the area.

Even so, Fremont residents were shocked by the grisly scene.

“Just sadness for the whole family and everybody in Fremont. This doesn't happen in Fremont...it's just sad, and we're doing the best that we can, that's all of our effort today,” Wiersma said.

A conglomeration of police agencies responded to the Last Call Bar following the shooting, including officers with Ohio BCI, Fremont police, Sandusky County Sheriff's Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Gibsonburg and Woodville police, Wiersma said.

Officials are urging the public to call Fremont police with information at 419-332-6464.

Reporter Andy Ouriel contributed to this story

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