Friends say Akron hospital shooting suspect, John Wise, was devoted to his wife of 45 years

Barbara Wise died from gunshot wound to head

AKRON, Ohio - During a tearful interview, Terry Henderson said he's stunned that his close friend of 35 years, John Wise, is sitting behind bars, accused of killing his wife, Barbara Wise, inside Akron General Medical Center.

Henderson said John, of Massillon, was a retired steel worker who loved animals, donated a lot of money to charity, and had a deep devotion to his wife.

In hindsight, Henderson, 58, is now convinced the hospital shooting inside the intensive care unit was Wise's final act of love.

"It's obvious to me that my friend did this out of love for his wife. You stop and think how much courage it must have taken for him to do this. He threw his life away. That's how much he loved his wife. I hope people understand that," Henderson said.

Henderson said Barbara suffered a severe brain aneurysm a week ago and John felt his wife was suffering.

"He was not going to let his wife languish and suffer and be a vegetable in the hospital or a nursing home," Henderson said.

Akron Police Captain Dan Zampelli said John visited his wife at the hospital just before 9 p.m. Saturday. Without warning, he pulled out a gun and shot her in the head.

No one else was injured and hospital security kept John in custody until Akron police arrived.

Wise has been charged with attempted aggravated murder. On Sunday, Barbara was pronounced brain dead.

In Akron Municipal Court on Tuesday, John Wise seemed confused by the charge against him.

"I have one question, your honor. You said I was charged with attempted murder. Is she not dead?"

The judge instructed him that his attorney would answer his questions. Bond was set at $1 million, but the judge said 10 percent of that amount can be posted for release from the Summit County Jail.

Prosecutors are expected to increase the charge to murder or aggravated murder as early as Wednesday, when John is due back in court.

Henderson believes that John took a cab to AGMC because he wasn't planning to return to his home in Massillon.

"I think he planned on taking himself out at the same time, but the gun jammed is what I think happened," Henderson said.

Another close friend Chuck Messmore, 77, was stunned by the turn of events and said he knows John as "a big, friendly, congenial teddy bear."

Messmore also believes the shooting was a mercy killing. Emergency personnel responded to the Wises' home a week before the shooting for a medical call that involved advanced life support, including oxygen and a heart monitor. Hospital and emergency officials have said they can't disclose any information about patients because of privacy rules.

"It's totally out of character for John Wise. Totally. Never once did he indicate to me that he would come unraveled."


The Associated Press also contributed information used in this report.

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