CINCINNATI -- Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones criticized the woman whose 10-year-old son was held hostage for more than 30 hours over the weekend, questioning why a mother would leave her child behind and saying she had changed her story.
Jones, speaking on 700WLW's Bill Cunningham Show Monday, said the woman and another man ran out of the Liberty Township apartment Friday night after 31-year-old Donald Gazaway pulled a gun during an argument.
"They said they were scared, he had a gun," Jones said. "I don't know many mothers, if any at all, that would leave their 10-year-old son, or daughter, in the house with some guy that's holding their son or daughter with a gun."
The sheriff’s office will be recommending Butler County Children Services open a case concerning the family, WCPO media partner the Journal-News reported.
"There's nothing we can do at this point," Jones told Cunningham. "She has custody. And we have to figure out what went on in that apartment before all this took place. It doesn't smell right ... When everybody else leaves and flees, they usually don't leave their child inside."
The details of the relationship between Gazaway and the boy's mother remain unclear. Jones said authorities were first told Gazaway came to the apartment demanding money. He said the woman initially claimed that she had only known Gazaway for a few weeks. But the woman told reporters that she has known Gazaway for years and said he was more like family.
"You know, he's a good person at the end of the day. It's not like I let a criminal or some stranger came into my house and held my son hostage," she said.
Gazaway remained in the apartment with the boy from late Friday night until early Sunday morning, when he came outside and surrendered, authorities previously said. During the standoff, he fired nearly two dozen rounds at officers, but nobody was hurt, Jones said.
When you hear debate about the militarization of American policing, please remember suspect fired 20+ shots at officers was arrested w/o injury, 10-yr-old hostage safely rescued, & many officer/citizen lives were safeguarded by use of this armored vehicle! https://t.co/CHlpV7TTZE pic.twitter.com/4w7YBrenlO
— Craig R. Bucheit (@craigbucheit) January 15, 2018
Gazaway had spent more than four years in prison for felonious assault and a gun specification in Hamilton County. He was released in July and was still under the supervision of Ohio's Adult Parole Authority, according to state records.
The mother brought the boy to a local hospital to be checked out, Jones said.
The mother told WCPO she was "just happy that this turned out right."
"He's a brave little boy. All he wanted to do at the end of the day was protect mommy. I think he was more concerned about me being safe versus him being stuck with the bad guy," she said.
Investigators are still working on the case. Gazaway is facing charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, inducing panic and violating his parole. Jones said authorities may file more charges against Gazaway.