Authorities are now attempting to identify two possible suspects in a church parking lot shooting that occurred Tuesday evening, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
A witness called 911 shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and reported seeing two vehicles in the Center Christian Church parking lot near US 35 and Interstate 71, as well as people involved in a fight. A short time later, the caller reported hearing what was believed to be a gunshot. Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies found an incoherent man inside of a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. The other vehicle departed the scene by the time deputies arrived.
“The person who called in the shooting believes he saw three people, so going off that information, we’re looking for two people, not just one,” Stanforth said Friday afternoon. “It was dark and he saw a fight, and he thinks he saw a third person.”
The first deputy on the scene Tuesday, Jordan Lovely, requested response from EMS and a medical helicopter while administering first aid to the victim, who is from Butler County, according to reports. The name of the victim is not being released right now due to concern for his safety, Stanforth said.
The victim was transported to a Columbus-area trauma center and his condition is reportedly improving.
“Detectives have interviewed the victim in an effort to identify the suspects,” said Stanforth. “They will most likely talk to the victim again.”
Stanforth reiterated that investigators have no reason to believe this is anything other than a “drug deal gone bad.”
“The victim was not related to the church or the area in anyway that we know of,” he said. “This looks like individuals who tried to find a secluded spot in order to make a transaction….a transaction that then went sour.”
Stanforth, along with members of his command staff and detective bureau, responded to the scene Tuesday and secured the perimeter while the investigation was conducted. A crime scene agent was requested from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification (BCI&I) to assist sheriff’s detectives with the investigation and collection of evidence.
Anyone with information regarding this shooting is encouraged to contact the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at 740-335-6170.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica