Copley police respond to deadly shooting rampage, 6 of 7 victims and shooter ID'd

6 of 7 victims ID'd in Copley massacre

COPLEY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - "We cannot say for sure who was shot first," said Copley Police Chief Mike Mier. Those words came during a news conference where, for the first time, authorities identified six of the seven victims from Sunday's deadly massacre, along with the shooter.

"This is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends who lost their lives yesterday. No words can describe the loss," said Mier.

The Copley shooting spree started just before 11 a.m. Sunday at a house in the 2300 block of Goodenough Avenue. In all, police said there were four different crime scenes where gunman, Michael Hance, 51, shot eight people, killing seven of them. Police then shot and killed Hance after he fired at officers.

At 10:55 a.m. on Sunday, the first 911 call came into the department where a woman on Goodenough Avenue reported a man with a gun. Shortly after the first call, a second 911 call came in from a resident on Schocalog. A woman can be heard crying as she reported a bullet coming through her window. The dispatcher told her to stay in her basement and help was on the way.

WEB EXTRA: See police presentation from news conference here: http://5.wews.com/rtD

Among the dead, Copley-Fairlawn High School student Autumn Johnson, 16, and another 16-year-old student whose name is not being released until her family is notified.

Autumn's father, Bryan Johnson, 44, along with her grandparents Russell Johnson, 67, and Gudrun Johnson, 64, were also shot and killed by Hance.

Police said the Johnsons and Hance were neighbors. Hance lived in a home on Goodenough Avenue only for about eight or nine months with his girlfriend of more than two decades, Rebecca Dieter. They took over the Copley home after Rebecca's parents died.

Craig Dieter, 51, and his son, Scott Dieter, 11 , were in town from Kentucky to visit Rebecca Dieter, 49, and attend a family reunion. Both were murdered. Meanwhile, Rebecca is in the ICU at a local hospital after being shot multiple times by Hance.

The Dieter family released a statement read by Chief Mier: "Our family has suffered a loss too deep for words. Please respect our privacy as we grieve. Thank you to all. Continue to pray for us."

Authorities said the order in which the victims were shot is still under investigation.

While authorities haven't confirmed a motive, The Associated Press reported a woman who knew Hance said he was an unpleasant, disliked person who was involved in an estate dispute. Robin Hancock, 53, of Akron, came to Copley's police station on Monday to hear updates on the slayings.

"He was quiet and strange," she told them.

Hancock was a caregiver for a slain couple in the rampage, and said Hance's confrontational behavior caused her to leave her job. She said Hance had become embroiled in a dispute over the will of Dieter's late parents, and that a next-door couple, who were long-time friends with Dieter's parents, had gotten involved. That couple, the Johnsons, were among the seven whom police said Hance shot and killed.

Police said Hance shot his girlfriend in one home, then ran to a next-door neighbor's house, where he shot her brother and gunned down four neighbors. He then chased four people -- two through neighboring backyards -- shooting one of them before bursting into a home on a nearby road, where two others had sought refuge.

Police said he shot his eighth victim, the 11-year-old boy, in that home and left, only to get into a gunfight outside with a police officer and a citizen who had been a police officer.

Gilbert Elie, who has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years, heard the gunshots and cries for help as he got ready for church. In an account that differed slightly from the police version, Elie said he went to a house across the street and found the woman who lived there lying in the driveway, her husband shot near the garage, and their granddaughter and another woman shot in the front seat of a vehicle, the windows apparently blown out by gunfire.

A third woman came out of the house next door and tried to talk to Elie, he said, but their brief exchange ended abruptly when a man followed her out of the house and shot her, sending the 76-year-old Elie running for safety behind a truck.

"She was talking to me, and he come up behind her and shot her, so I figured, maybe I'm next," he told The Associated Press. He hid until he could see the gunman was gone, then returned home. Police arrived, and Elie said he heard a second round of shots coming from behind the houses and assumed officers had killed the gunman.

Elie described the gunman as generally unfriendly, a rarity on the street, and said he often worked on his car outside his house but never waved at anyone.

A Facebook page, R.I.P Johnson Family, has been created to remember Autumn. Friends of the high schooler have posted pictures to music to remember their friend. Love and support is pouring in from others on the page who don't even know her.

Hance has no prior record. Detectives

said Hance used two hand guns in the rampage but it's unclear if he reloaded the gun and how many shots were fired.

Mier said Copley Township enjoys a low crime rate, in particular, a very low violent crime rate. He said the area where this happened is safe and has been safe.

"It's unfortunate something of this magnitude took place," he said.

Copley Trustee Dale Panovich said, "I, and some other trustees, live in this area where the incident took place. We feel very safe in our neighborhood. It was a very unfortunate incident. A tragedy like this here is unheard of."

Around sunset, about 200 people assembled at a park for an impromptu candlelight vigil for the shooting victims and crime victims elsewhere. Some residents said they set up a memorial fund.

The Rev. Jeff Bogue of the Grace Church of Greater Akron prayed with those gathered at the vigil about faith in the wake of violence.

"This is troubling Lord, why such evil would come to our little township," he said.

Police continue their investigation. Keep checking newsnet5.com for the latest information on this story.

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