Deputy Wounded by Friendly Fire

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ELYRIA, Ohio—On the day a Lorain County sheriff’s deputy was released from a local hospital after being shot, authorities say the deputy was actually struck by friendly fire.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon Lt. Chris Costantino with the Elyria Police Department revealed that Deputy Charles Crausaz was stuck by a round from another deputy’s AR-15 rifle.

Authorities had originally thought Crausaz was struck by a bullet fired by Travis Stidham, 42, of Stable Drive in Lagrange Township.

Lt. Costantino said Stidham did fire two shots at Crausaz with a .40 caliber handgun, but both misses the deputy. Lt. Costantino added that the rifle bullet penetrated Crausaz’s protective vest, and did not strike the deputy in an unprotected area under his arm.

Officials at MetroHealth Medical Center tell Fox 8 News that Deputy Crausaz was discharged from their facility on Thursday morning.

Crausaz, 39, was shot around 8:45 p.m. Monday in the area of Pheasant Run Village in LaGrange Township.

Authorities say they received a 911 call from Stidham’s family just after 7:00 p.m. Monday evening stating that he was “acting crazy.”

Stidham’s mother told sheriff’s deputies that Travis had shot his animals because their black fur made them evil. He also reportedly shot the television in the home.

When deputies responded to the home, Stidham allegedly shot at them, prompting the deputies to return fire.

Stidham then fled the scene, kicking off a large manhunt that involved police departments from Elyria, North Ridgeville and Wellington.

A Cleveland Police Department helicopter used infrared technology to locate Stidham within 10 minutes of arriving to assist.

That’s when, according to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, Stidham ran into a barn on Lattasburg-Elyria Road and he took his own life.

On Wednesday Crausaz thanked supporters for sticking by him throughout his harrowing ordeal.

“I would like to extend a special thank-you to the law enforcement community including Sheriff Phil Stammitti, Captain James Drozdowski, my colleagues and the staff at the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department, the Cleveland Police and the Fallen Officers Association for their show of support through countless visits, cards and calls. I’d also like to express my gratitude to our friends and family who have supported me, my wife and our children during this time. Our family is also appreciative of the outpouring of thoughts and prayers from the community,”