TRENTON, Ohio -- James Geran was "always respectful" to the woman he took hostage and shot to death Wednesday morning, girlfriend Gina McCleary said Thursday night.
The woman was her mother, 63-year-old Sharon McCleary.
Gina McCleary's account of the two-hour standoff between Geran and Butler County deputies, during which he repeatedly fired at officers before turning the gun on her mother and then himself, is significantly different from that given by Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.
She insisted that she, her sister and her mother had not been held hostage -- although Geran and authorities both said they were -- and that her mother's death at Geran's hands must have been a mistake.
"I don't believe he did it on purpose," she said. "I would never, ever ever believe he did, and I'm going to keep my feelings that way until I find out what happened."
According to Jones, the confrontation between Geran and authorities began with the discovery of a woman's body on a driveway in Madison Township. Jones said the victim, 27-year-old Megan Motter, was Geran's "business partner" in illegal activity and that Geran was known to have an extensive criminal history.
"(He) came home and said some things had happened that night," Gina McCleary said.
Deputies' overnight investigation into Motter's death led back to Geran's apartment, where he, McCleary, her sister Tammy Davis and her mother were all inside the following morning.
Davis fled as soon as authorities arrived, but both McClearys remained inside as Geran fired out the windows at officers. When SWAT officers threw a phone in through one of the broken windows, hostage negotiations began.
"I could have left at any time," McCleary said "He wouldn't have kept me in there. He never threatened to harm me."
After two hours, Jones said, Geran agreed to leave the apartment, release "one of the hostages" and surrender. McCleary said she was the one who convinced him to do so.
"I ended up talking him into walking out," she said. "Just, ‘Give it up. You're not going to get anywhere with this,' so we decided to walk out of the house."
McCleary left the apartment alone -- walking, according to her; running to an armored vehicle, according to Jones -- and Geran closed the door behind her. His gun sounded twice.
"I could see the spark go off as the door was closing," McCleary said. "I didn't know my mom had got shot. I didn't know my mom had died."
She had. Moments later, the door swung open again and Geran crawled out. He shot himself below the chin, according to Jones. He was bleeding and missing teeth, but alive and speaking as authorities loaded him into an ambulance.
No charges had yet been filed against Geran by Thursday night, although Jones said authorities recovered evidence from the apartment. He did not disclosed whether said evidence might have been related to Geran's "business" with Motter.
Authorities were still investigating three scenes connected to the incident: The driveway where Motter's body was found, the apartment and a car parked outside.
McCleary said she did not believe Geran had intentionally shot her mother, and she planned to wait for him through the investigate.
"If he did perchance do that on purpose I'll take it from there and I'll speak to him, but until then I'm just going to stay where I'm at," she said.
She did not comment on Motter's death.