Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Gunman killed in standoff with cops


Butler domestic dispute escalates at trailer park

By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer

OXFORD - The gunman's voice haunts them.

"There was so much passion and evil at the same time. I've never heard anyone yell like that, and it keeps playing over and over in my head," David Skeens, 26, said Tuesday. "He was screaming from his soul - that's how hard he was screaming."

Skeens and his girlfriend huddled inside their trailer Monday evening as a gunman unleashed rage outside. Police speculate that the death was "suicide by cop."

Authorities said Shane Griffin left officers no choice but to shoot him after he peppered the Miami Mobile Home Court with at least two dozen gunshots. Then, police say, Griffin aimed an AK-47-style assault rifle at an Oxford police officer. That officer and a Butler County deputy opened fire. Griffin, 35, died at the scene.

"It ended with the loss of one life, but we are so fortunate that it did not end with the loss of any more," said Sheriff's Chief Deputy Richard K. Jones.

The fatal standoff was believed to be the first in Butler County since the 1980s, Jones said. Officers couldn't recall a single time that police shot anyone in Oxford, a college town of 22,000 residents 25 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

Investigators are trying to learn how Griffin got the guns - which they said weren't his - and what fueled Griffin's rage, Jones said. The county coroner's office has not released a cause of death for Griffin or drug test results.

"Officers on the scene told me he was as mad as they've ever seen anybody," Jones said. "This guy was bent on either killing somebody or making somebody kill him."

After police received a report of a domestic dispute just before 4 p.m. Monday, Griffin refused to heed pleas for calm from family, friends and officers. "The situation just escalated," Jones said, until Griffin was shot about 6:30 p.m. Monday. He had repeatedly threatened to shoot police unless they shot him first, Jones said. The officers whose shots hit Griffin are on paid leave. Their names were not released.

Court and police records show Griffin has a history of criminal violations and drug use. He was convicted of burglary in 2002 and violated probation twice this year. After he tested positive for cocaine use, a judge sent him to an outpatient drug-treatment program in September.

Police say Griffin had mental problems and tried to commit suicide a month ago. Around that time, his ex-girlfriend, Kim Weber, 27, said she feared Griffin because he shoved her and had previously threatened to kill her. A Butler County court issued a temporary protection order booting Griffin from the trailer where he and Weber lived with three children. That trailer also is in the Miami Mobile Home Court.

E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com




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