A security guard accused of killing an unarmed trucker said he felt threatened before he shot the man Sunday at a Dayton truck stop newly opened three days earlier, detectives said.
Investigators said Monday that 48-year-old Goran Sojic was shot by the 25-year-old guard at Love’s Travel Stop on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard, but witnesses said Sojic charged at the guard and was acting erratically.
“We don’t know yet what precipitated the incident,” said Lt. Wendy Stiver. “We don’t know yet why this man was behaving in the way that he was.”
The shooting occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. at the 24-hour travel center opened for the first time Thursday at 2217 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd.
According to witnesses, which included a customer and an employee, Sojic had been asked to leave the store prior to the shooting. At some point, he came back inside and appeared as if he was attempting to go behind the counter, said Lt. Mark Ponichtera of the Dayton Police Department.
The guard felt threatened and shot at the subject, Ponichtera said.
Mike Blangiforti, vice president of public relations for Arrow Security in New York, confirmed that Joshua Karp, of Dayton, is an employee of the company and was involved in the shooting. Karp has been granted personal leave while the police investigation is ongoing, Blangiforti said.
The company would not say how long Karp has been employed with them.
Sojic lived in Naperville, Ill., according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. He was an owner-operator who was driving a semi parked at the Love’s on Sunday contracted through Universal Transport. It is unknown where he was heading or what he was hauling. The truck appeared to still be parked in the Love’s lot on Monday.
Police are reviewing surveillance video as part of their investigation, some of which was not immediately available, Stiver said.
“There is additional video we are waiting for, and there are some questions that we just won’t be able to answer until we’ve seen all the video,” Stiver said.
Some lingering questions include whether there may have been a language barrier between Sojic, who is from Bosnia, and the guard and whether there was any sort of verbal or physical exchange between the two before the shooting.
The 7,851-square-foot truck stop also features a Hardee’s restaurant and a tire shop.
“It is unfortunate that this happened at a brand new business,” Ponichtera said, but he added that this type of incident could have occurred at any of the other surrounding businesses.
“We have had a meeting with the owners (of the truck stop) at this location to let them know about trends in the area here,” Ponichtera said.
Although police did not want to deter new business from opening in the area, they did advise the business that certain security measures should be taken.
“It is a situation we told them it would be appropriate for them to have security here,” Ponichtera said.
Stiver said the level of security suggested would have been suggested for any 24-hour business, regardless of location.
The area near the truck stop is known to police as a high drug and crime area with dozens of drugs arrests taking place in the parking lots of the BP gas station, Wendy’s and McDonald’s nearby in the past five years, according to police reports.
Police said no criminal charges will be filed until a full investigation is completed and presented to prosecutors. Homicide detectives interviewed Karp at the scene, but he was not taken into custody.
Both Love’s and Arrow Security declined to comment on the details of the police investigation.
A customer service representative at Love’s corporate office said the company is, “working with law enforcement to determine what happened.”
The Ohio Department of Public Safety is responsible for licensing private security companies in the state. Spokesman Joe Andrews said that any security employees who carry a firearm on the job must go through 20 hours of handgun training administered by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Blangiforti said Karp received the training to carry the firearm.