MENTOR, Ohio (WJW) — Mentor city officials identified those killed and injured in a shooting at a Mentor mobile home park on Thursday afternoon, as well as the 47-year-old suspect, identified as Jason Norris, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Witnesses said Norris was facing eviction at Mentor Green Mobile Estates, 7166 Mentor Ave., and had fought with the property manager, according to a Friday news release. Police believe that was earlier this week or last week, and it’s currently unclear whether that was a motive for the shootings.
Four people in the mobile home park were shot, three of whom died.
“Our investigation is continuing, to help determine all the circumstances surrounding this horrible incident and hopefully determine the ‘why,'” Mentor Police Chief Ken Grunsch told reporters on Friday.
On Thursday afternoon, Norris came out of his unit with two handguns — a .45-caliber handgun and a .38-caliber revolver — and shot at Colon and three others who came to her aid, before retreating back into his unit, said Grunsch.
Police respond to active shooter
Mentor police responded to reports of an active shooter at about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16.
The first officer who arrived on scene just two minutes later found the property manager, 62-year-old Laura Colon, dead in the roadway. Mentor officers later used tactical shields to rescue Colon from the roadway, Grunsch said.
The second officer on-scene found a man, 63-year-old Terrance Mathis Sr., who had been shot in the stomach. That officer pulled the man to safety and gave him CPR. Grunsch said the officer “combat-carried” him another 60 yards across the street to responders, who took him to a nearby hospital. He later died of his injuries.
Norris then began firing on officers from inside his home, unit No. 84. He fired six to eight shots, as officers took cover, Grunsch said. They did not return fire. No officers were injured — “a blessing,” he said.
“It’s a difficult situation,” Grunsch said. “You’re there to provide aid, you’re there to stop a threat, and all of a sudden, you’re receiving fire. It’s a tough situation, but we’re trained for it.”
The third and fourth officers on-scene found a second person dead of gunfire, 81-year-old Thomas Galizia, who lived in the unit neighboring Norris’ home.
Authorities found a fourth shooting victim, identified as a 63-year-old man, who had been shot in his home in the shoulder and right thigh. The man was escorted outside by Willoughby police and taken to a local hospital. He is reportedly in stable condition.
SWAT officers then arrived with three armored vehicles and surrounded and evacuated the park.
Residents took shelter at the Mentor Senior Center, and were assisted by the American Red Cross. Victim advocates from the city and the Lake County Crisis Team also helped tend to their needs, according to the release.
Norris reportedly barricaded himself inside his unit, and an ensuing standoff lasted several hours.
SWAT officers were unable make contact with Norris. Just after 8 p.m., officers deployed a drone into Norris’ unit and found that he appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to the release. They soon secured the unit and confirmed his death.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is still examining the scene, according to the release.
All residents were able to return to their homes by 5 a.m. on Friday.
“Mentor is a close-knit community and our collective hearts are heavy this day as we process this senseless act. Our condolences and prayers go out to the families of the victims,” Mentor City Manager Ken Filipiak said Friday. “We are not a city accustomed to this kind of violence, nor is there any history in this very quiet neighborhood that could have anticipated this tragedy.
“I want to acknowledge the courageous actions of our Mentor police officers, who gave the victims a chance at survival and avoided additional loss of life, and our firefighter paramedics, who also did all they could to help the victims,” Filipiak continued.
Watch the full media briefing below:
What we know about Jason Norris
Grunsch on Friday said the 47-year-old Norris was a U.S. Army veteran who was discharged about two decades ago, but he couldn’t offer specifics on his exit from the Armed Forces.
Police found several other firearms inside Norris’ unit, including an AR-15 rifle and a bolt-action rifle, along with “various rounds of assorted ammunition,” Grunsch said. Police believe Norris was the legal owner of all the firearms and haven’t found any evidence that he was somehow prohibited from owning them, Grunsch said.
Norris had no criminal history in Mentor beyond an OVI arrest in 1998 and a traffic ticket in 2004, Grunsch said Friday.
Though police said Norris was in the process of being evicted, they still don’t yet know why.
“We’re still doing the investigation, trying to gather all our facts and try to determine what may have caused this,” Grunsch said.
Police were there earlier that day
Mentor police responded at about 9 a.m. Thursday to the mobile home park on a complaint involving Norris, said Grunsch.
Norris complained that his neighbor had a camera pointed at his unit. Grunsch confirmed that neighbor was 81-year-old Thomas Galizia, one of the three people shot and killed.
“An officer responded. He talked with him. He understood the neighbor could have a camera like that, and that was it. And we left,” he said.
Officers during that earlier call didn’t note anything unusual about his behavior, or anything to suggest he was unstable, Grunsch said.
“It’s a quiet mobile home park, nothing significant,” he said. “We usually don’t have any type of issues over there whatsoever. It’s usually a peaceful park.”