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Guns have grip on Sandusky

Sarah Weber • Apr 4, 2011 at 1:54 PM

In the days after Officer Andrew Dunn's shooting death, his father denounced the violence in the city.

Matt Dunn grew up in Sandusky, raised his family here and has spent more than 20 years on its police force.

For many of those years, Dunn said, an officer's biggest concern was maybe dodging cars.

"Now all these little ones that I'm looking at here are dodging bullets," he said. "This is an every-night occasion in town anymore that we have shots fired. It's senseless. And what I'm going through, what his mom is going through, what the rest of our family is going through, I hope nobody else has to go through."

Andrew Dunn, 30, died March 19 after he was shot five times during a traffic stop on Tyler Street. A grand jury has indicted Kevin Randleman, 50, of Sandusky, for murder and related weapons charges.

The gun Randleman allegedly used to shoot Dunn was illegally concealed, police said.

Just three days before the Tyler Street shootout, meanwhile, a masked man robbed the Best Budget Inn on Cleveland Road at gunpoint. He got away with an undisclosed amount of money.

Officers have also investigated several recent reports of gunshots in the city.

Gun violence peaked in June and July 2010, when shootings plagued numerous Sandusky neighborhoods, Sandusky police Detective John Orzech said.

Police made a number of arrests after last summer's shootings, and the gunplay quieted for a while.

But recently it has flared up again, Orzech said.

In fact, the city's spate of gun violence has progressively become the worst he's seen in his 13 years at the department, Orzech said.

"We're going to have to do something to curtail it," he said.

Officers who try to clear illegal weapons and their users off the streets don't have an easy job ahead of them.

The revolver Randleman allegedly used to shoot Dunn has not been documented since it was sold in 1975 at a Tennessee gun shop. A .38-caliber Colt "Detective's Special," the weapon has never been listed as stolen.

"I'd say 90 percent of the guns we deal with are like that," Orzech said.

Randleman himself was the victim of gun violence in the city on June 12, when he suffered a superficial leg wound during a gunfight at Hancock and Neil streets, according to police records.

In that incident, members of two local gangs started firing at each other at about 1:45 a.m., unloading about a dozen .40- or .45-caliber shots near a crowd of about 60 people.

A week later, bullets narrowly missed a woman and her son as they slept at a residence in the 1200 block of First St. As many as 12 bullets were fired blindly into the home.

Gunfire rang out again in the city June 20 and July 6, when bullets went through homes in the 1600 block of North Larchmont Drive and the 400 block of Reese St., respectively. The occupants in the homes escaped injury.

On July 14, a 37-year-old man suffered a bullet wound to the stomach and collapsed at Columbus and Scott streets. An early-morning jogger found him.

Then, on July 19, another man was shot in the leg while walking down Huntington Drive.

Sandusky ex officio mayor Dan Kaman said city commissioners are discussing their options as they set out to reduce gun violence in the wake of Dunn's death.

Commissioner Julie Farrar encouraged residents to speak up and take responsibility for improving the city's safety.

"When you see people shooting guns, don't pull that, 'Oh well, I didn't see anything,'" she said at a recent commission meeting. "As soon as something happens to one of your loved ones or next-door neighbors, you need to speak up.

"It's hurting the police department when people are not speaking up," Farrar said. "People are not saying what they know."

Sandusky police have a tip line — 419-627-5980 — residents can call and anonymously leave information.

The police will also allow people to drop off illegal and unwanted firearms, Orzech said.

In light of the recent gun violence, some residents might want to remove illegal weapons from their households. To do so, they can simply call police at 419-627-5863 and make an appointment to turn over the guns.

"This crazy, senseless violence has got to stop," Matt Dunn said. "There is no racial issue; there is no issue other than civility."

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