MEDINA, Ohio - Andrew Baumgartner was a Marine, who served in Afghanistan, and planned to become a cop, according to Medina County detectives.
But on Thursday night, the police were after Baumgartner after he scuffled with Sgt. Scott Schmoll on I-271 near State Route 94.
Baumgartner, 27, of Westlake, also tried to get inside a Granger Township home before disappearing into a wooded area and taking his own life.
The bizarre and tense chain of events unfolded shortly after 11 p.m., after concerned drivers called 911 to report a man walking along the expressway.
Sgt. Schmoll responded and offered to give Baumgartner a ride.
But when Schmoll patted the man down, he felt a pistol tucked inside his waistband. Schmoll didn't know it at the time, but the gun was loaded.
Suddenly, the two wrestled to the ground.
"The suspect turned on my sergeant and they were hands on and they were involved in a tussle. The sergeant told me as soon as he put his hands and felt the weapon, it started right then. It happened very fast," said Lt. Matthew Linscott.
According to Linscott, Schmoll pushed away from Baumgartner, and the experienced sergeant began to position himself to grab his gun or Taser, but the suspect escaped into the woods north of route 94.
Fifteen minutes later, home surveillance video captured Baumgartner knocking on the side door of a home on Ridge Road just south of Ledge Road in Granger Township.
He told residents that he needed help because he had been hit by a car.
A young man inside the home came to door with a shotgun.
After learning why the armed Marine was at his door, that young man, 18-year-old Nickolas Robinson, credited his shotgun for keeping his family safe. Robinson told NewsChannel 5, "My parents were arguing [with] me 'cause I just got the shotgun for a gift and they were arguing that if I brought my gun up here, I was going to do something bad with it … honestly if I didn't have that gun and our camera wasn't on that front porch, I think he would've, like he's a Marine, he would've right then and there disarmed me or maybe something else …"
With the shotgun in his hand, Robinson said he told the Marine he would call 911 for help and shut door.
At that point, Baumgartner disappeared again into the woods. Authorities with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Medina County Sheriff's Department, Lodi Police Department, Medina Police Department, Metroparks K9 unit and Montville Police Department converged on the wooded area.
As deputies got to within 14 feet of Baumgartner, there was a single gunshot.
"They found the suspect with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," Linscott said.
Investigators wondered how the Marine, who had served in Afghanistan, had found so much trouble just a few months after he was discharged.
Inside a backpack that Baumgartner had dropped during the fight with the sergeant, detectives found some possible answers.
They discovered two more loaded and stolen guns, Linscott said.
They also found a cache of stolen jewelry. Deputies bagged thousands of dollars worth of watches, including an expensive Rolex, and many necklaces.
It turned out Baumgartner was a suspect in home burglaries in Solon and Cleveland Heights.
Detectives were saddened that a man who had served his country died the way he did, but grateful no one else got hurt.
Linscott said a deputy or the residents in Granger Township could have been hurt or killed.
"When I get that call in the middle of the night, I know my sergeants and my deputies are out here, you kind of go on alert. You want to make sure they go home to their families every night," he said.
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