A man who was killed after an intense shootout with Middlefield police officers during a traffic stop has been identified. James L. Gilkerson, 42, of Mentor-on-the-Lake, was the suspect, the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities said Gilkerson shot at the two officers from his vehicle before the officers had a chance to exit the cruiser on Route 608 and Tare Creek. The officers returned fire, killing the suspect at the scene.
“I heard a bang, bang, a bang,” said Christopher Coggins, who didn’t realize what he heard were gunshots. “At worst, I thought it was firecrackers because it is a small town and nothing ever happens here.”
A female officer was shot in the hand and taken to a nearby hospital by medical helicopter to undergo emergency surgery. The male officer sustained minor injuries to his left knee from flying fragments.
Police have not officially released the names of the officers, but a sign outside the Middlefield Municipal Center read “Heartfelt blessings to officers Savage and Thomas.” Both officers are expected to fully recover.
Officials said the suspect was using a semi-automatic rifle. It is unknown how many shots were fired.
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