Willard mother called 911 after being shot by son

A home-schooled Willard boy allegedly shot his mother in the back with a stolen pistol Wednesday, triggering a massive manhunt that ended with the boy's arrest about two hours later.
Emil Whitis
May 31, 2012


A home-schooled Willard boy allegedly shot his mother in the back with a stolen pistol Wednesday, triggering a massive manhunt that ended with the boy’s arrest about two hours later.   

Michael Mason, 16, used a .22-caliber handgun to shoot his mother, Melissa Mason, once in the back, Willard police said.

The shooting happened inside the family’s home, 23 N. Main St.

The teen immediately fled, but he was arrested at about 1 p.m. when a slew of police and Huron County deputies surrounded his friend’s West Pearl Street home.  

His mother, meanwhile, was flown by medical helicopter from the Willard hospital to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, where she was in stable condition later that evening, a hospital spokesperson said.

She was “alert and conscious” when paramedics took her to the hospital, Willard police Chief Mark Holden said.

Melissa called 911 at about 11:20 a.m. and told Huron County Sheriff’s dispatchers that her son just shot her. By the time officers showed up, Michael was gone.

Police immediately launched a manhunt, prompting a response from the Huron County and Norwalk SWAT teams, both of which were training nearby at the time.

Plymouth police and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers also joined in the hunt, with the Highway Patrol lending a helicopter and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office providing a search plane.

“It was a massive response,” Holden said.

Just minutes after Melissa called 911, police notified Willard Schools superintendent David Danhoff about the shooting. Holden also sent officers to the schools.

At 11:45 a.m., Danhoff put the schools on lockdown. He also issued an automated “one-call” notification to parents, warning them that a shooter was on the loose in town, but students were safe.

“I wanted the parents to know (their children) were safe,” Danhoff said. “They were better off inside the school than running the streets.” 

By that time, the small army of eager law enforcement officers had spread out all over town in hopes of finding Michael Mason, described as a 15-year-old white male wearing a black shirt, camouflage pants and carrying an orange backpack.

They focused their search on the west part of town, near the railroad tracks.

At some point, one of Michael’s friends told officers the boy was hiding out in a home in the 500 block of W. Pearl St.  The army of police descended on the house and surrounded it.  

“I saw movement in the window,” Holden said. “I motioned for them to come out.” 

Michael and an adult male, later identified as David Miller, 56, emerged from the home. Officers quickly arrested Michael. The teen initially provided a false name, but a Willard Schools resource officer was on hand to positively identify him from past run-ins, Holden said.    

Inside the boy’s backpack, police recovered a semi-automatic, .22-caliber pistol that contained a single, spent shell casing.

The homeowner, Miller, 56, is the father of Michael’s friend, police said. 

Miller said he had absolutely no clue what was going on.

“All I know was he had a hard life at home,” Miller said. “He was talking about going out West, somewhere in Utah, I think.”

Last year, Michael was kicked out of school for threatening other students, Danhoff said.

He didn’t return to school, opting instead for homeschooling.

Danhoff remembered the teen as “quiet” and “laid back.” During the expulsion hearings, Michael showed remorse for his actions and tried to explain why he did what he did, Danhoff said. 

“He said he was frustrated with his friends,” Danhoff said. “He said when he got frustrated he got angry, and said some things he really didn’t really mean.”

“Actually, he handled himself pretty well,” Danhoff said. 

Wednesday afternoon, students in the Willlard High School parking lot said much of the same. 

“He was always kind of quiet,” student Moses Lopez said. “He wrote poems to girls. I didn’t see the violence in him.”

The mother of Melissa’s live-in boyfriend, declining to provide her name, said she has watched Michael grow up over the years. As SWAT teams wrapped up the search, the woman lingered at 23 N. Main Street. 

“Out of all the kids, I can’t believe it was Michael,” the woman said. “I don’t know why Michael would do something like this.”

She said the boy had been through a rough patch. He recently got busted stealing his mother’s car, which he planned to use to visit a girl he met online.

“He was always real quiet and shy,” the woman said. “He was such a good boy.” 

Michael still hadn’t been charged with a crime late Wednesday. Police took him to the Seneca County Juvenile Detention Center for the night, although he’s scheduled to appear before a Huron County juvenile court judge at 11:30 a.m. today. 



 He shot his mom in the back!  What a tough guy!


Not knowing the family or this boy, I don't know whether to say "but he was such a good boy" sarcastically, or to say that we need to pray for all the children of broken homes. So many of these children don't even know what a "home" is. I remember one time the son of a friend told me that he never knew what to expect. That he was told to behave a certain way at his mom's, a certain way at his dad's and then when he visited his grandparents, they also expected certain things from him. And then there are the families that the biological parents have had multiple live-in partners. It is no wonder these kids are confused.


Coming from a broken family myself, I find your comment a little harsh.  Instead of praying for "all the children of broken homes" why don't we just pray for ALL children in general?  Many kids from broken homes grow up to be responsible adults that have learned from their parents mistakes.  Just because the parents broke up doesn't make the kid a bad person, the parenting  skills, or lack there of, makes the kid.  I too had to act differently from one house to the next, but that was out of respect to the homeowner, whoever it may be, -parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, etc. Please don't judge and assume, we don't know the whole story, that's where the problem arises.

Sit n Spin

In my opinion it's better to come from a broken home than be in one.


Something his mother did caused him to react violently and most likely he has been mistreated all along by someone.  The quiet ones are the ones you need to watch out for.  One day they just snap.  He'd had enough most likely.  Wasn't trying to be tough.  He probably had been bullied too.  Young men that write poems are generally made fun of.  There is alot more to this story than this article and probably alot more to the boy too, so yes, refrain from judging.  It's a shame he found it necessary to become violent but maybe now he will get some help for his problems.


 I know the kid that did this.... he was a freind of my daughters. miller was my daughters best friend and mason dated my daughter for a little while.... mason was a very confused kid. He lied all the time, he did crazy things.... he did have a hit list last year my daughter was one of the names on it and it was NOT a friend list or gameing list cause some of those kids did not have game systems. Willard schools said there was noting to worry about and as parents we know better. The school didn't take it serious and I did! There were kids that were afraid to go to school because of it! Its kind of funny that the hit list came out about this time last year and now his mom gets shot around the same time this year. I moved out of Willtard and now I am really glad that we did. Nothing good ever comes from Willard....


When a child begins to exhibit any kind of withdrawal from society, not matter what kind it is....it is time to begin to talk to them.  All kids go through this.  It starts when they reach puberty.  they feel ackward and set apart and they feel like they don't fit in.  But what is worse, they feel alone.  So instead of talking they go inward.  In our busy, daily lives, we as parents don't take the time to stop and remember we were once that way....the teen with the gawky legs, maybe funny teeth or strange ideas.  And we don't take the time to talt to the kids.  Instead we demand that they "snap out of it' as if they could.  We drive them further into themselves and make them feel worse. 

So what if this boy wrote poetry to girls.  That doesn't make him weird.  He had a sensitive side that no one noticed nor did they nurture.  He also had a violent side that every one noticed and that is what got him attention.  So that is what he used the most.  No wonder this boy is confused, a liar and a problem.  And no wonder he lashed out at the one person who should have noticed him the most .....his mom.  When all else failed and he could not get her attiention, he shot her. 

It doesn't take a psychologist or a great mind to figure this out.  Nor a genius.  Its obvious.  He ran in fear.  It wasn't right but he needs help.  I hope he gets it.  We can all judge and criticise but this kid, like so many others in todays world are just being wasted because the parents aren't being parents.  The kids get wasted at such a young age and they get lost.  How sad this one, at the age of 15 has to go to jail to get the help he should have had all along.  It shouldn't have been this way. 

The Answer Person

The mother's live in boyfriend.  Well folks...doesn't that say it ALL?



@the answer person....Not really.  Sorry but I would have to know the guy. 


I've read the comments that everyone has posted so far & everyone has made some really good points.  One of the comments that kinda bothered me was said "nothing good ever comes out of Willard" I beg to differ with this comment. Because I was moved to Willard when I was 15 I did my high school yrs there I left when I was 18. I've turned out pretty darn good. I will say Willard is not the Willard I knew, those yrs were some of the best I had, made great memories in Willard. It breaks my heart to see & read what's in the papers about Willard & the only stuff that is ever printed is the bad!

I find it crazy that when this child was caught with a hit list at the high school that the school didn't take this sorta thing serious. Especially with everything that has been happening in this town the past I don't know how many yrs. It's unfortunate the school didn't take it serious maybe this child would have received some type of help at the time! Yesterday might not had happened & the lady who commented about moving out of Willard her & her family might still be living there! Maybe he wasn't a "bad" kid maybe just a kid who needed some help but didn't know where to turn to get it. From what some people said that knew him said he had rough home life, so he couldn't go there. Most kids who have it rough at home usually turn to school

I believe parents should always talk to their children, build a communication relationship with your children. Not just when they start turning into a teenager. The child can feel maybe more comfortable coming to their parents with a question or situation,a concern or problem they are having no matter what the topic maybe. And I believe a parents should ask questions as simple as "how was your day at school".Find out what they are doing who they are friends with.

Not all kids who have it rough at home or come from a broken home turn out bad or shoot people. I came from both! I had it really bad in my broken home that's why I had to move to Willard was to live with a family member. Like I said I turned out good & my sister did too. We both have a very good life & families of our own. I can say we live well. When we all turn into adults we are taught all our life to know right from wrong, It's our choice to do the right or wrong thing.

I pray for the mother that was shot and her family including her son who did this to his mother that they find the strengh to get through this terrible time in their life. And not just children that come from a broken home need our prayers(I agree w/ the person who pointed this out,it bothered me too) so do all the abused children,the ones sitting in foster care, the ones who might struggling with their grades, The point is they all need our prayers.



@ Brewsbrat.....that was a well written piece and nicely thought out.  That comment about Willard was nasty and judgemental.  But it is the right of the person who said it to fell as they feel, right or wrong.  Some of us just don't agree.  That is our right.  Obviously this kid needs help, not a bunch of judgements....that won't help.  I hope he gets it and I hope the mother is ok.  They do need our prayers as you say.  Good job.