Police are still working to piece together why Shawn Schuett, 19, shot one woman in the head and took two others hostage before turning the gun on himself Wednesday night inside the Willard Family Dollar.
Schuett shot store employee Kimberly Kelley, 47, at about 8 p.m. She was pronounced dead a few hours later by the Lucas County coroner, Willard police Chief Mark Holden said.
The other two hostages escaped — shaken but unharmed.
Employee Dayna Goodsite, 21, of Willard, made a run for it after Schuett began firing, Holden said. When the woman noticed Schuett glance away from her, she darted through the store’s back door to safety.
JoAnn Sarver, of Tiffin, was shopping inside the store when Schuett entered. He declared he was there to send a message, and to kill people, Holden said. Sarver dialed 911 twice from inside the building, but didn’t want to tip off the gunman to her calls for help, Holden said.
Though Sarver never directly said she was being held hostage, she did mention her location during the call, Holden said. A Willard dispatcher traced the call’s origin to the West Walton Street business and sent officers to the scene. Those calls were made shortly after 5 p.m. When police arrived minutes later, however, they couldn’t enter the store.
“My officers got there right as one clerk pulled the door shut and locked it—right as he was barricading them in,” Holden said.
So began the three-hour standoff. Few new details have emerged as to what was happening inside the store during that period.
Security cameras were destroyed in an October burglary, and investigators waited to interview Goodsite until Thursday night, Holden said.
During those three tense hours, law enforcement agents from about six area departments descended on the scene. Hostage negotiators with Ontario, Ohio, police and special response teams with Mansfield police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol tried to talk Schuett down, Holden said.
Family members also tried to dissuade Schuett from taking further action, but those efforts ultimately failed.
Gunshots pierced the night air shorty after 8 p.m., and police saw Goodsite running from the building, yelling that Schuett had unleashed fire, Holden said. It was at that point law enforcement smashed through Family Dollar’s front windows and rushed the back of the store.
They found both Kelley and Schuett on the floor with head wounds. The gun Schuett used was a .22-caliber rifle, which family members said he purchased shortly before the standoff, at Ace Hardware—just a few doors down from Family dollar. “Every indication we have right now is that he got it that afternoon,” Holden said.
When asked if Schuett essentially purchased the weapon, then walked next door to use it, Holden said: “Pretty much, the Ace is in the same building as Family Dollar, it’s right next door.”
At a news conference Wednesday night, Holden disclosed Schuett held a gun to a woman’s chest and forced her to drive him to the store. It was later learned that a friend willingly dropped him off at Ace Hardware shortly before the ordeal began, Holden said.
The woman officers first believed was taken hostage in her car actually turned out to be Sarver, the customer who escaped early on during the standoff, Holden said.
Police plan to speak with Schuett’s adoptive mother in the coming days to gain more insight into his motives and state of mind, Holden said.