Updated: 7:23 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 | Posted: 11:22 p.m. Monday, Jan. 3, 2011

Shooter was involved in similar incident with a deputy in 2001


Shooter was involved in similar incident with a deputy in 2001 photo
Michael Ferryman's bullet-riddled trailer at Enon Beach. Ferryman engaged police in a gunfight New Year's Day after killing Clark County Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Waughtel Hopper. Staff photo by Marshall Gorby
Shooter was involved in similar incident with a deputy in 2001 photo
Michael Ferryman's bullet-riddled trailer at Enon Beach. Ferryman engaged police in a gunfight New Year's Day after killing Clark County Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Waughtel Hopper. Staff photo by Marshall Gorby

By Megan Gildow Anthony and  Samantha Sommer and Josh Sweigart

Staff Writers

MAD RIVER TWP., Clark County — Nine years before Michael Ferryman, 57, reportedly threw open the door of his Airstream trailer on New Year’s Day and shot and killed a Clark County deputy with a shotgun, he opened the door to that same trailer — then parked in Malta, Ohio — and shot at a sheriff’s deputy investigating a similar report.

On Saturday, Ferryman reportedly complained about a neighbor’s dog defecating in his yard before firing a shotgun blast at that neighbor’s trailer.

When Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Suzanne Waughtel Hopper responded to investigate, he ambushed and killed her, police say. A shootout started when backup arrived, and German Twp. Patrolman Jeremy Blum was wounded. Ferryman was found dead after the firefight.

In Sept. 5, 2001, deputies went to AEP Recreational Land — located near McConnelsville, Ohio — to investigate a report that Ferryman shot at campers who were taking wood from a community firewood pile, claiming it was his wood, according to Morgan County Sheriff Thomas Jenkins.

“Mr. Ferryman came out and fired a shot in the general direction of an officer, but in the air,” Jenkins recalled.

The deputies retreated and law enforcement officials from around the area evacuated two nearby campers, and set up a perimeter more than 100 yards away from Ferryman’s trailer in an isolated area of the campground. Ferryman remained barricaded in the trailer overnight until Sept. 6, with Ferryman occasionally coming out to shoot at officers, but never injuring anyone, said Jenkins.

The standoff ended peacefully that afternoon after negotiators were able to talk him into surrendering.

Jenkins said officers recovered several weapons from the trailer, including a shotgun, rifle and a crossbow. The weapons remain in evidence.

Maria Blessing — who lived with Ferryman at Enon Beach — was with Ferryman in Morgan County as well. She was also charged but never prosecuted, said Jenkins.

Ferryman was under mental health supervision

Ferryman was charged with felonious assault, stemming from the 26-hour standoff in which he fired shots at officers.

Ferryman was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, and was admitted to the Timothy B. Moritz Forensic Unit, a maximum security psychiatric facility on the campus of the state’s Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare campus in Columbus, for competency restoration to stand trial.

According to the Ohio Department of Mental Health, he was discharged back into the court system in 2003, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

He was re-admitted to Moritz on May 1, 2003, and was transferred to Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare in Cambridge, a facility that’s now closed but previously served Morgan County.

He was conditionally released from that facility in 2005 after the Morgan County courts approved a discharge plan with Mental Health Services of Clark County and a forensic monitor overseeing his progress, according to state records. He was released to Clark County because it was determined that Ferryman had a support system here, said Trudy Sharp, Ohio Department of Mental Health communications director.

The terms of the release included residing at 2401 Enon Road, the address of Enon Beach Campground; not having any weapons; taking medications as determined in his treatment plan and following the plan; submitting to drug testing; and meeting with case managers and monitors assigned to him, according to documents obtained by the News-Sun.

He was evaluated by the facility again in 2008.

He was still reportedly under the supervision of mental-health case workers when Hopper was killed this past weekend.

No one is alleging that the tragedy that unfolded Saturday could have been prevented, but state mental-health officials say reviews likely will happen.

“It’s such an awful tragedy, and anyone — either at a state or county level — with the ability to look at procedures and see whether anyone dropped a ball will no doubt do so,” Sharp said.

Dr. James Perry, director of Mental Health Services of Clark County, said he couldn’t release any information related to Ferryman, citing patient confidentiality.

Ferryman’s court and criminal file was not available for review at the sheriff’s office Monday because the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Identifications requested the file, said Jenkins.

“It’s a tragic event for Clark County,” he said. “If there’s anything I can do for (Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly), all he has to do is ask, whatever it is. And the same to the family of Deputy Hopper.

“There but by the grace of God, go I.”

‘Right after the words, the gunshot came’

Enon Beach manager Don Northrup said Ferryman complained Friday that a neighbor’s dog had defecated in his yard. Northrup said Ferryman was not threatening during the phone call.

The complaint was about dogs owned by David and Elke Harrison, who had lived in a trailer next door to Ferryman’s for about three months. Elke Harrison said Monday they had only talked to Ferryman and his girlfriend once when the Harrisons first moved in and “they were a nice couple.”

The Harrisons and two friends were awoken Saturday by Ferryman yelling outside their trailer.

“Get the hell out,” he yelled, Elke said. “Right after the words, the gunshot came.”

The shotgun pellets came through a porch screen, and scattered. Some hit an outside furnace, others flew through the door window. The pellets flew right over the Harrisons’ bed and out the window on the other side, some lodging in the trailer wall and shattering the light bulb above their bed.

Some of the pellets may have grazed David, or it may have been splintering wood that left cuts on his arm and face, Elke said.

“Thank God we had slept in,” she said.

They called the sheriff’s office. Deputy Hopper responded and Elke said she arrived at the scene and began following some footprints. Elke heard her call to her partner before Ferryman fired the shot that killed Hopper.

“She said, ‘Come here, I need your help,’ ” Harrison said. “Not really distressful, but louder.”

Police responded from across the area. Patrolman Blum was wounded in a following police shootout, after which Ferryman was found dead.

Elke said she’s grateful to be alive, but is haunted by the whole incident.

“I’m still shaking. I get nightmares. I can’t sleep,” she said.

Elke said she hopes a minor complaint about a dog wasn’t what started the whole thing, but she doesn’t know what else would have set Ferryman off.

“There was no problems. I didn’t even talk to him for like three months,” she said.

Valerie Lough, Matt Sanctis and the Columbus Dispatch contributed to this report.


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