Akron fire that killed 7 was ‘act of arson’; one person in custody

Cars, house searched as we learn more about suspect in Kirkersville nursing home shooting

KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio — Authorities say they've searched two cars belonging to the man suspected of fatally shooting an Ohio police chief and two nursing home employees.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday that two search warrants were issued for the cars.

One of the vehicles searched was at a nearby gas station in Kirkersville in central Ohio.

Media reports also say police searched a house in the nearby village of Utica on Friday.

According to WBNS-10TV, the gunman is Thomas Hartless. They report Hartless has a criminal record which dates back to an assault in 1992 and includes three domestic violence charges. According to WBNS, he was also charged in 2009 with abduction.

Police say the suspect killed Kirkersville Chief Steven Eric Disario and two female employees at Pine Kirk Care Center. The gunman was found dead with the employees. WBNS reports investigators confirmed Hartless had a relationship with one of the employees.

Kirkersville is about 25 miles east of Columbus. Utica is about 26 miles north of Kirkersville.

The shooting closed down the main street in the village, which was flooded with police officers from several surrounding agencies and with ambulances.

"We don't have this stuff go on around here," said Ron Rogers, 67, a local shopkeeper. "The only sirens we hear are when the Fire Department goes out."

A woman who lives across the street said she and her 6-year-old son heard it happen.

"We heard it all," said Tiffani Chester, 25. "We heard yelling, we heard the gunshots, then it was just sirens."

Pine Kirk is licensed for 24 patients and had 23 as of May 3, according to Ohio Department of Health records. A message was left with the center, whose employees appeared wheeling medical carts out of the facility Friday evening to put them into storage while patients are away.

Peter Van Runkle, the head of the state trade association representing nursing homes, told the Dispatch that Pine Kirk caters to "the forgotten members of society."

"They provide them with a small environment that's less institutional than some facilities might be," he said. "They do a good job of taking care of a niche clientele."

The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the probe into what happened. County Coroner Michael Campolo didn't expect to release autopsy results until Sunday, after all four victims had been examined.

Gov. John Kasich ordered flags flown at half-staff in Licking County and the Statehouse and expressed his condolences in a tweet.

"Join me in praying for his family, friends and colleagues, and for the others injured in this tragedy," the Republican governor said.

**Continuing coverage**