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Accidental shooting death of Stark County Chief Deputy is ‘sensitive case’

CANTON, Ohio - A memorial stands in the lobby of the Stark County Sheriff's Office paying tribute to the late Chief Deputy John Campbell, who was fatally shot at his Lake Township home late Sunday.

Authorities were summoned to his house by a caller who told the dispatcher,  "We just had an accidental discharge at my house."

When asked if everyone is OK, the caller answers, "No, my dad got hit in the neck."

The investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Summit County Sheriff's Office.

But public records from the Stark County Sheriff's Office show why the incident has been described as most likely an accident.

Deputies arrived to find Campbell in a second-story master bedroom. They were led by a person described as "Suspect #1" to another bedroom where they found an SKS Carbine rifle on a bed. They report that a cleaning kit was found on a chair next to the bed.

The person described as "Suspect #1" told deputies that he was clearing the weapon so he could clean it and when he pulled the bolt back the weapon discharged.

"The incident did happen inside the home. The bullet did pass through a wall and like I said it does appear to be accidental. But we are going to conduct a thorough investigation," said Inspector Bill Holland of the Summit County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday.

The Stark County report said the first medics on the scene reported Campbell was deceased at the time. The report listed the victim/suspect relationship as "parent."

"It's kind of a sensitive case for the simple fact that it involves another law enforcement agency that we work a lot with. So we are really not making too many comments in regards to the investigation or what you hear; if you have a copy of the 911 call you can kind of hear what it's involving," Holland said.

Campbell worked at the Stark County Sheriff's Office since 2015. He had previously spent more than 20 years in law enforcement including having served as the agent in charge of the Ohio Investigative Unit in Cleveland.

The current agent in charge of that office, Greg Croft, told FOX 8 News on  Monday that Campbell was the most knowledgeable law enforcement officer he had ever met.

Croft also said Campbell adored his wife and his world revolved around his family.

"Everything he did, he did not for himself, but for those three. I tried to model my marriage after him and his wife. They were truly best friends," Croft said.

Letters and expressions of sympathy have been streaming into the Stark County Sheriff's Office since the incident.

Sheriff George Maier on Tuesday wanted to thank those who have sent messages of condolence and respect. He also asked for patience as he, and Campbell's colleagues and friends cope with their loss and await the final report from Summit County.