Stark County Deputy Sheriff death believed to be ‘accidental discharge’ of firearm

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CANTON, Ohio - Investigators are working to piece together the events that led up to the fatal shooting of Stark County Chief Deputy John Campbell at his Lake Township home.

Authorities were summoned to the victim's Vixen Street address late Sunday.

Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier released a statement calling the shooting an "accidental discharge" of a firearm in which the bullet went through an interior wall of the home and struck Campbell who was in another room.

Campbell had been with the Stark County Sheriff's Office since 2015.

He was previously with the Ohio Investigative Unit for more than 20 years, serving as the Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division.

Current Cleveland Division Agent-In-Charge Greg Croft tells Fox 8 News he was personal friends with Campbell for the past 17 years and had vacationed with him and his family.

"His world revolved around his family, his boys and wife," said Croft.

"He did everything he did not for himself, but for those three," added Croft, who said he personally tried to model his marriage based on the relationship Campbell had with his wife.

"They were truly best friends," said Croft.

As a law enforcement officer, Croft described Campbell as "the most knowledgeable law enforcement officer I have ever met."

"Our hearts are broken and he will be so very much missed. Our hearts go out to the family," concluded Croft.

Because the victim was one of their own, the Stark County Sheriff's Office asked their counterparts in Summit County to conduct the investigation.

North Canton Police Chief Stephan Wilder, who serves as the President of the Stark County Police Chief's Association, called the news of Campbell's death devastating.

"When I first heard the news I was just very, very devastated by that, very sad about that. John is an exceptional man. He served the state for over 25 years in the Ohio Investigative Unit and was a great addition to Sheriff Maier, and in our conversations with the sheriff he shared how he was an impactful man at the sheriff's department," said Wilder.

"He was well-respected and well-known to all of us. In fact, we just shared dinner last Friday at an awards banquet for our Canton Regional Swat Cooperative. He was standing in for the sheriff who had other responsibilities. It's just a very, very sad event and we will just have to be patient as the investigation unfolds." added Wilder.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office was not able to release any details on Monday regarding what happened inside the house or how it happened.

Officials with knowledge of the investigation, however, were certain on Monday that it would ultimately be determined that it was nothing other than a tragic accident.

The death was taking an emotional toll at the Stark County Sheriff's Office, where officials declined requests for on-camera interviews on Monday.

"I just hope that the best for all of the deputies and employees at the sheriff's department can take a moment and think back and be thankful for what we have - but also be caring and thoughtful for the family, and for all of our well-being because it's a setback obviously, and his death is just going to affect us for a long time," said Wilder.