The shootout occurred Friday afternoon, shortly after police received reports that someone was shot in the face by a man driving a black Hummer.
“Somebody literally just got out of their car, walked up to another car and shot somebody right in their face,” a 911 caller told the dispatcher.
The caller said the victim was bleeding profusely, though perhaps in shock.
“It looks like his face was cut wide open. I mean, he is pouring blood,” the caller said. “He is breathing. He’s listening to music and dancing with his hands. I don’t think he comprehends what’s going on.”
Police said the shooting victim was driven to the hospital before EMS arrived. He was ultimately flown to a Cleveland area hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Officers responding to the scene said they saw the Hummer drive off to a nearby street. They conducted a traffic stop, but the suspect got out of the vehicle and began shooting at the officers, hitting one of the patrol vehicles.
One witness, Paul Grant, said he was getting off the Interstate 80 exit when he saw the shoot-out with police on East Liberty Street, so he started recording.
“They both started shooting at each other. Shots went on for about 40 seconds and then a couple more Liberty PD cruisers rolled in behind them, rolled out, a shootout ensued, and I don’t know, after about another 30 or 40 seconds, they were able to shoot him and drop him,” Grant said.
Police say the suspect was taken to a hospital in stable condition. Authorities are withholding the suspect’s identity pending further investigation. Charges are also pending.
Police detained a woman at the scene, but it is unclear whether she was involved in the incident.
No officers were hurt during the shootout.
Carrie Deabler, another witness, was in the hotel pool at the Days Inn across the street from the shootout when she thought she heard gunshots.
“I’m doing my laps and … I heard “pow, pow, pow” and I snap around like, ‘What was that?'” Deabler said.
Deabler is a retired psychiatric nurse. She ended up comforting a woman and her husband who saw the shooting.
“She was so traumatized. She held onto me and held onto me and I just held her too. You can’t stay with them forever, everyone has their lives and stuff, but she’s going to be hurting for a while after this,” Deabler said.
The incident prompted a massive police response, with officers from multiple agencies arriving on-scene to block off the intersection, as well as a nearby interstate exit. The Liberty Police Department is handling the initial shooting; the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the officer-involved shootout.
Three Liberty police officers were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident, per standard protocol.