Sunday, October 31, 1999

Shootout shocks Loveland

Suspect, detective seriously injured

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Janice Snyder and daughters live across from the Martin home, shown behind her.
(Yoni Pozner photo)
| ZOOM |
        LOVELAND — An explosion of gunfire early Saturday between police and a Loveland man angry at his estranged wife left the man, a police officer, a state trooper and an elderly neighbor injured.

        William Thomas Martin, 39, was charged Saturday afternoon with one count of felonious assault on a police officer, a felony 1 charge, the most serious, said Loveland Sgt. Scott Ackman. Mr. Martin was in serious condition at University Hospital Saturday with multiple gunshot wounds.

        More charges could be brought this week against Mr. Martin, who led police on a predawn chase. It ended when he crashed the car he was driving in a ditch at the corner of Ruth Avenue and Oak Street.

William Thomas Martin
        Police say the shootout began when Mr. Martin, carrying a shotgun, started walking from the car to his wife's house in the 300 block of Ruth Avenue.

        Loveland Detective Tim Amburgey, 44, who has been with the Loveland Police Department for about 18 years, remained at University Hospital Saturday in serious condition. One gunshot blast hit Detective Amburgey, shooting one pellet into his chest while others shattered his arm.

        Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Bobb's forearm was grazed by pellets. He was treated at Clermont Mercy Hospital and released, Patrol Sgt. Gary Lewis said. Trooper Bobb, 25, of Union Township, Clermont County, has served on the patrol for 11/2 years.

        Neighbor Gladys Burns, 74, of Ruth Avenue was treated at Bethesda North Hospital for facial cuts after stray bullets broke a window in her home. She also was grazed by a bullet.

        The incident marked the first time a Loveland police officer has been shot in the line of duty, Sgt. Ackman said.

        Neighbors awakened by the shooting say it wasone of the more violent moments to befall their sleepy corner of Loveland in Clermont County.

        “It was pretty much mass chaos,” said Amy Alsip, whose Oak Street home sits across the street from where Mr. Martin crashed the 1991

        Ford Probe. “It sounded like firecrackers. I think I heard 12 shots fired.”

        The incident started with an early morning telephone call from Mr. Martin to his estranged wife. Neighbors said the two had separated several months ago. Police had been to their house repeatedly for domestic violence calls.

        In a call to 911, Shelly Martin told a dispatcher that Mr. Martin telephoned shortly before 2 a.m. and demanded to talk to his children. Mrs. Martin said she has a restraining order against her husband and he is on probation for domestic violence.

        When she refused to wake the children, he drove to her Ruth Avenue home, kicked in the door and went into the living room where their 11-year-old daughter was sleeping, Mrs. Martin told the dispatcher. He gave his daughter an engagement ring he had intended to give his new girlfriend, Mrs. Martin added.

        “You'll never have to see me again,” he announced, according to Mrs. Martin.

        He then stormed out of the house and drove away on Oak Street. He was intoxicated, she added.

        “Oh my God! ... Why did he do this? Why did he do this?” Mrs. Martin sobbed on the 911 tape.

        As a dispatcher assured Mrs. Martin officers were on the way, Loveland police put out a bulletin on Mr. Martin, warning that he was armed and threatening suicide, Sgt. Ackman said.

        Mr. Martin twice called the house from a pay phone, once from a BP service station at Interstate 275 and Wards Corner Road and then from a Perkins Family Restaurant at I-275 and Ohio 32 near Batavia, police said.

        Union Township, Clermont County, police caught up with him near Perkins, and the chase was on, Sgt. Ackman said. Mr. Martin turned around and headed north on I-275. Miami Township police picked up the chase, and Trooper Bobb joined as backup.

        As Mr. Martin led them back into Loveland, police told Mrs. Martin to gather her children and get out of the house. Neighbors say she and her daughter drove to the Loveland police station while son Daniel, about 16, drove behind in another car. At some point, Daniel turned around and returned to Ruth Avenue, trying to stop his dad, neighbors said.

        Detective Amburgey and Loveland Officer James Brown were waiting for Mr. Martin. Units from the Clermont County Sheriff's office were there.

        Mr. Martin pulled onto Oak Street, crashing into a ditch before he could turn left onto Ruth Avenue. Miami Township police and Trooper Bobb pulled in behind him.

        Mrs. Alsip said she saw Mr. Martin get out of the Probe and start walking toward the family house, shotgun in hand. She said officers yelled for him to stop. When he refused, shooting erupted.

        Sgt. Ackman would not say who fired first, how many shots were fired or which officers fired their weapons.

        “Multiple officers from multiple agencies were shooting,” he said.

        Police had been to the house several times the past year on domestic calls, Sgt. Ackman and neighbors said. Mr. Martin has been arrested for domestic violence numerous times.

        The Martins had separated and Mr. Martin was living with his parents in southern Warren County, neighbors said.

        Friends and neighbors on Ruth Avenue said though they knew about the couple's problems, they never expected things to get this bad.

        “I would never have dreamed any thing like this would happen,” said Janice Snyder, who lives with her husband and children across the street from the Martins. She said the Martins have been living on Ruth Avenue for more than a dozen years.

        Mrs. Snyder's husband, Greg, said Mr. Martin is a plant supervisor at Reading Rock in West Chester. Mrs. Martin is a manager at Loveland Lanes.

        “This is something that happens in bad neighborhoods, not this neighborhood,” Mrs. Snyder said of the working-class area. A shed in the Snyders' back yard was hit by a handgun bullet. Police officers were firing handguns, Sgt. Ackman said.

        Mrs. Burns lives next to the Snyders. She was hit by flying glass as she made her way to the front window of her home during the shootout. A bullet grazed her shoulder.

        The shots to Mrs. Burns' home were “indicative of handgun rounds,” Sgt. Ackman said, repeating that police officers were firing handguns. He would not say whether Detective Amburgey fired his weapon, though he did add that the detective has not been involved in any other incidents firing a gun in the past.

        While some neighbors were stunned by the events, Laura Busby, a next-door neighbor of the Martins, said she is less surprised.

        “You shoot at a cop, you have a death wish.”

        Marie McCain contributed



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