Portage County Sheriff’s Office, community rally together to support deputy who was set on fire

ROOTSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The community is rallying together to support a Portage County Sheriff's sergeant who was set on fire Thursday night.

According to a press release, authorities were attempting to serve felony warrants Jay Edward Brannon, 49, of Atwater on a property in Rootstown at around 6:45 p.m. Thursday. He allegedly was found crouched down in front of a pick-up truck that was in the process of being repaired.

Brannon then ignited a can of flammable liquid and "proceeded to make threats that he was going to "kill the cops," according to the release. He also made comments that he wanted officers to kill him. He threw the ignited can of liquid at officers, striking Sgt. James Acklin.

Acklin, with his clothing on fire, retreated through a man door. Other authorities helped him extinguish the flames.

Brannon, according to the release, then charged the other officers still in the building and attempted to assault them. They were able to get him outside and take him into custody.

Acklin, who suffered severe burns, was taken to the burn unit at Akron Children's Hospital. The sheriff's office is not releasing his condition but said he suffered burns on more than 20% of his body.

"He intended to hurt them, he told them he was going to kill them, I mean those were his words," Portage County Sheriff David Doak told FOX 8 Friday.

The sheriff described Sgt. Acklin as a “great guy to work with." He said Acklin is 22-year veteran of the department and set to retire in 70 days.

Meanwhile, the community is rallying around Acklin and finding ways to help.

Rootstown Township Trustee Joe Paulus was across the street at a meeting when the attack happened.

“It’s a crime against humanity you know throwing fire on somebody,” said Paulus, “I mean it was so traumatic I was thinking as I was standing there across the street we gotta do something for this guy.”

Paulus, who is also involved with the Rootstown Township Lions Club, said they are already collecting donations and 100% of them will go to Sgt. Acklin’s family.

Checks can made out to the Rootstown Lions Club and mailed to:

P.O. Box 132
Rootstown, OH 44272

They are also planning a fundraiser and will post updates on their Facebook page.

The Portage County Sheriff’s Deptartment said they are also collecting gas cards, grocery cards and restaurant gift cards for the Acklin family. Donations will be accepted at the Portage County Sheriff’s Office located at:

8240 Infirmary Rd
Ravenna OH 44266

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