How 30-hour hostage situation unfolded in Butler County, according to officials

Sheriff: 'We thought he wanted us to shoot him'
How 30-hour hostage situation unfolded in Butler County, according to officials
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 18:27:54-05

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Butler County deputies said they could hear the 10-year-old boy crying and saying, “Why are you doing this to me?”

Sheriff Richard Jones said there were times during the 30-hour hostage standoff when he thought the suspect, who fired more than two dozen rounds at police, wanted to die.

"We thought he wanted us to shoot him,” Jones said.

While Jones recounted the tense standoff Tuesday, the suspect, Donald Gazaway, appeared in video arraignment charged with kidnapping, felonious assault and inducing panic.

Gazaway is being held at the Butler County Jail on more than $1 million bond.  

The boy is safe with relatives.

Gazaway is accused of pulling a gun at the boy's residence in the 700 block of East Hamilton Place, demanding thousands of dollars from the female resident, firing dozens of shots at deputies and police and using the boy as a human shield before surrendering Sunday morning, the Journal-News reported.

Multiple police agencies came to the boy's aid. Several trained deputies and police officers negotiated with Gazaway through a bullhorn, with Gazaway at times yelling to authorities.

“We did not at times think we were going to get a good result …. we thought he wanted us to shoot him,” Jones said.

While the sheriff would not say if authorities considered that, he did say, “He never gave us a chance. We could not move in. We could not do anything without jeopardizing the child.”

Negotiators provided food and water to Gazaway and the boy, who were in a vehicle in the garage most of the time.

Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer said the negotiation process was not good, due to the location and Gazaway’s refusal to use a cell phone provided by officials.

“At times, he said he was going to give up, then didn’t,” Dwyer said. “That happened several times. Then he would turn the radio on and sit there.”

Waiting him out worked in the end, officials said.

Jones said that halfway through the standoff it became apparent his department was not equipped for such a lengthy incident. With SWAT officers tired from standing in frigid conditions, reinforcements came in the form of Hamilton and West Chester Police.

“We knew we needed help. We asked for relief and, actually, they were calling us,” Jones said. He added that officers from those departments took the place of deputies so they could sleep and return Sunday morning.

Hamilton police Chief Craig Bucheit tweeted photos of the armored vehicle that police hid behind during the standoff. The photos showed where police say the bullets Gazaway fired struck the armored car.

No one was hurt in the standoff.

Fast forward to Tuesday when Gazaway appeared by video in front of a Butler County magistrate.

The magistrate read the charges, explained the bond and asked Gazaway if he had money for an attorney.

“Not at the moment. I can try to gather up some," Gazaway said.

“We'll appoint an attorney if you qualify," the magistrate replied.

The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO 9 On Your Side.