DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Rev. Penny Stacy was the closest thing to comfort Mohammed Laghaoui's father and brother could find late Thursday night, after he opened fire on them and a sheriff’s deputy during a domestic dispute.
Stacy spent a large portion of the night sitting with the family in Bethesda North Hospital in Montgomery, where she serves as chaplain.
She was one of the first to learn of the events that led up to the shooting-turned-manhunt that would span into Friday morning, keeping the Landen neighborhood of Deerfield Township on lockdown and officers searching for more than seven hours.
Law enforcement officials have not released much detail surrounding the domestic disturbance call that took Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Katie Barnes to the Orchards of Landen apartment complex Thursday night, but Stacy — sitting, trying to stay calm with two men worried about their 19-year-old son and brother on the run from police — learned that the bullet that hit Laghaoui’s father was actually intended for his brother.
Their father stepped in between his two sons, as one fired an AK-47 assault rifle at the other. The father survived his injuries.
The Laghoui family moved to Deerfield Township about a year ago, Stacy said, after having lived in West Chester before that. Laghaoui’s mother was away in Morocco, observing Ramadan, at the time of the shooting.
Speaking with WCPO Friday night, Stacy recalled the fear and terror in Laghaoui’s brother’s eyes.
“He just kept going, ‘I should have known,’ and he said, ‘I screamed like a girl because I didn’t know what else to do. When I saw the blood, I still didn’t know what to do.”
He now credits his father with his life, thinking about his brother now sitting behind bars.
It was during the exchange of gunfire that Barnes drew her firearm, aiming for Mohammed. Laghaoui fired back, striking Barnes in the lower abdomen before fleeing the scene. Barnes also survived her injuries and was released later Thursday night.
Stacy convinced the nearby Deerfield United Methodist Church to open its doors Friday night for anyone who wanted to pray or simply be around others in a time of distress.
Rev. Bill Hounshell, chaplain for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, attended Friday night’s prayer session, and spoke with WCPO about his department’s anguish over Thursday night’s events.
“The toughest part about last night, of course, was our concern for our deputy that got shot,” Hounshell said. “That was our number one priority: Make sure that she was OK.”
As for Mohammed's family, a day later: They still have no idea where he would have gotten the assault rifle, which investigators were still working to locate Friday night. Family and friends alike remember the former Lakota East High School student as someone who did generally well in school and tried to keep a low profile.
“Dad’s heart was just as broken,” Stacy said. “If he could have gone to see that deputy, I believe that he would have, and that he would have given his own life for the deputy’s life.”