- Associated Press - Sunday, January 2, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) — It began with a sheriff’s deputy investigating a report of gunfire at a trailer park. By the time it was over, the deputy and the suspected shooter were dead, and a police officer was wounded in a gunbattle with the suspect.

“This is the worst day of my entire law enforcement career,” said Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly, who has been sheriff for 24 years.

Deputy Suzanne Hopper was shot Saturday as she tried to photograph a footprint in the Enon Beach mobile-home park in western Ohio, Sheriff Kelly said. Deputy Hopper, who was married last year and had two children, didn’t have the opportunity to return fire or take cover, he said.

Police officers were trying to talk to the shooting suspect when he fired on them from inside a trailer, and a German Township officer was wounded in an exchange of gunfire, Sheriff Kelly said. There were “many, many, many” shots fired by the suspect and eight officers, he said.

The wounded officer, Patrolman Jeremy Blum, was hospitalized in fair condition, a hospital supervisor said.

Authorities still were investigating and weren’t ready to say whether police gunfire killed the suspect, whose identity wasn’t released, Sheriff Kelly said. It’s possible the suspect, who had “a history” with the sheriff’s office, killed himself, he said.

Enon Beach resident Angelina Inman said she looked out of her trailer at the park, which sits near a highway, to see the deputy lying on the ground. She watched as another officer tried to reach her body.

“He was itching to get her,” Ms. Inman said. “He kept radioing in, can he please get her, and he was told no because it wasn’t secure. You could see that male sheriff crying — he wanted to get her, he wanted to get her bad.”

Sgt. Dustin White had accompanied Deputy Hopper to the trailer park, which is just southwest of Springfield and about 50 miles west of Columbus, and was interviewing a family whose trailer had been shot at when he heard Deputy Hopper scream, Sheriff Kelly said.

“We believed we had an active shooter, which we did, and we wanted to get her some medical attention, but we didn’t want to get anyone else shot,” the sheriff said.

Enon Beach acts as a seasonal campground with some summer-only residents and others who live there year-round. A portion of Interstate 70 was closed twice for a total of about an hour because the trailer park is so close to the roadway, Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Gary Lewis said.

A girl who lives in the trailer park said she knew the shooting suspect and he had a temper.

“He was a quiet person, but if you made him mad — he wasn’t very pleasant,” 15-year-old Chelsea Bagley said.

Her mother’s boyfriend, John Burkhardt, said he heard the shots fired in the neighborhood. Police then arrived, Mr. Burkhardt said, and for several minutes authorities asked the suspect over a loudspeaker to come out and surrender.

“They give him 25 chances to walk out of there,” Mr. Burkhardt said. “They were begging him to come out, but he wouldn’t come out.”

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