- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The suspected ringleader of a central Ohio gang facing more than 100 years in prison if convicted was shot and killed Tuesday after he opened fire on police, authorities said.

Jermonte Fletcher had been a fugitive for more than a year following his indictment in December 2013 on multiple charges of drug dealing and illegal weapons possession.

Members of a fugitive task force, acting on a tip, were trying to arrest Fletcher on Tuesday morning in an apartment building on the south side of Columbus when he opened fire, authorities said. They said two state troopers and a Columbus police officer returned fire and killed Fletcher. One officer suffered a leg injury carrying an 8-year-old boy out of the apartment, police said.

Fletcher, 33, had made statements that he wouldn’t be taken alive, U.S. Marshal Pete Tobin said. Fletcher was facing 115 years in prison if convicted of all 46 charges he faced, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors say the Short North Posse, dating to the 1990s, distributed drugs including crack cocaine throughout Ohio and in other states, and recruited individuals from elsewhere to join the gang’s operations in central Ohio.

Additional money laundering charges alleged the defendants used the casino in Columbus to disguise thousands of dollars in illegal drug profits. Defendants were also accused of using weapons to protect their operation.

Many of the 22 defendants charged in 2013 - 19 of whom have pleaded guilty and been sentenced - were relatives of original members of the Short North Posse, including sons and daughters. Fletcher was the only defendant at large.

The Short North district north of downtown is now a vibrant shopping and restaurant district, but it was a run-down and at times dangerous area before the first gang crackdown in the 1990s.


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