Gunman holed up inside Latonia home starts fire, surrenders to police

COVINGTON, Ky. – The Army veteran who held area police at bay for more than 19 hours set fire to the house he had barricaded himself in and exchanged gunfire with officers before being taken into custody.

Covington police confirmed the arrest of Michael Vaughan, 43, a military veteran who lived in the 4300 block of Michigan Avenue. At about 1 p.m. Sunday, Vaughan set his house ablaze and then opened fire on police. After sustaining a gunshot wound to his arm he surrendered to officers.

"Vaughan once again engaged our officers from elevated position with a rifle. We returned fire in Vaughan's direction and struck him one time that we are aware of," said Covington Police Chief Spike Jones.

Vaughan was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment.

The standoff on Michigan Avenue in the Latonia neighborhood of Covington began at 5 p.m. Saturday after police responded to requests from callers concerned about Vaughan making distressing comments on Facebook.

Specifically, Vaughan posted that he had no reason to live after his girlfriend left him.

When police arrived, Vaughan was holed up inside the home with his three children. Police SWAT teams were summoned and a long night of watching, waiting and negotiating began with the gunman who Jones described as a “decorated military veteran” suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Shots were fired by both sides throughout the evening and into the early morning hours. 

Some of the officers shot out the street lamps so the light wouldn’t give up their positions to Vaughan. They believed he was using social media and other means to target their location, Jones said.

Other shots were fired with deadlier intentions.

Steve Courtney, his wife and his 19-year-old grandson Ryan Rickey were sitting in the living room of a home across from Vaughan's residence at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday when they say a stray bullet exploded through a window and into their living room.

"We were sitting in the living room when a gunshot came through a dining room window and hit the wall next to me," said Rickey, adding that the bullet missed him by three feet.

Courtney said he has noticed multiple bullet holes in the structure of his home.

Most residences of the community spent the night tucked away in secure locations like basements and back rooms, only sneaking around to do things like go to the bathroom and get a bite of food.

Rickey said his family spent most of the ordeal in their cold, unfinished basement. While he crawled up the stairs to grab a bag of chips, Rickey said he kept the lights off and stayed away from windows to honor the requests of law enforcement officials.

Despite the gunfire and looming threat of a violent altercation, Jones expressed optimism throughout the situation and hoped it could be resolved peacefully. Just before dawn the police chief said, "We are optimistic at this time that dialog will continue to improve.”

Police spent much of the evening engaging Vaughan by way of text messages and phone calls in an effort to coax him into surrendering.

About 8:30 a.m. police reported the man had released his 15-, 11-, and 5-year-old children to the Newport SWAT units who were on the scene to assist.

“The kids came out in good condition,” Jones said. "We are more interested in getting the man the help he needs right now."

The children were put in the care of other family members and then the waiting and negotiating began again, continuing for another four and half hours until Vaughan surrendered.

Vaughan was initially arrested on a mental health warrant and transferred to Kenton County Jail. He will be charged with attempted murder of a police officer but more charges are likely, Jones said.

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