Child support dispute may have sparked deadly standoff - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Child support dispute may have sparked deadly standoff

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BOARDMAN TWP., Ohio - A Boardman Township man is dead after a standoff with police.

The man has been identified as 30-year-old Daniel Fitton, Jr.

What's believed to have started as a child custody dispute, lead to a deadly chain of events.

Boardman Police received a 911 call at approximately 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday saying that a suicidal man with a gun was threatening to shoot himself and others.

Police Chief Jack Nichols tells 21 News what patrol officers found when they arrived at the apartment building located at 817 Cook Avenue.

"Our officers went there and found him with a gun pointed at his head. He had barricaded himself in the apartment," Nichols says.

According to the 911 tape obtained by 21 News, the oldest daughter of Fitton's girlfriend left the apartment to call for help when Fitton began making threats.

Negotiators spent hours trying to diffuse the situation.

They made 69 calls to Fitton's telephone. In some cases Fitton hung up on police negotiators, and at other times, they could not make out what he was saying.

At some point Fitton became agitated and allegedly fired two shots at police. That's when two Boardman Township police officers returned fire, killing Fitton.

Chief Nichols says each officer only fired one shot and at least one of those bullets struck Fitton in the upper chest area.

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains met with Chief Nichols to review the circumstances of the shooting just hours after it happened.

"Based upon my preliminary view of this and absent anything to the contrary, it appears that all of the procedures were followed and this is actually a good shoot, and the officers were justified in taking the action they did," Gains says.

Once Fitton fired even one round at those officers, he became a major threat that has to be removed before somebody gets injured.

Cara Clementi who was evacuated from her apartment across the street says Boardman Police did everything possible to try to end things peacefully.

"Police did everything they could do. They had to do what they had to do. It was getting bad. He was screaming, something like, I promise you or I'm sorry," Clementi says.

Lori Cramer was the suspect's live-in girlfriend and the mother of their 2-year-old daughter.

She was able to get out of the apartment to safety.

"I think people should know he had serious mental issues and that he blamed himself for his father killing himself and that maybe the cops should have just looked for a way to injure him and get him help, since it appeared to me he was shooting inside and not outside at them," Cramer says.

 "I don't know what I think. I just think right now my 2-year-old niece doesn't have a father. I know police had to protect my sister and had to protect the neighborhood. I get that. I just wish he didn't have to die for that to happen," says Lori's sister Lisa Cramer. 

But neighbors confirm Fitton fired upon officers first and the prosecutor isn't ruling out the theory that Fitton may have wanted to die this way.

"It is a plausible theory that this is suicide by cop, because he did make threats," says Gains.

The names of the officers involved in the shooting are not being released at this time.

It's standard procedure to put the officers on paid administrative leave anytime deadly force is involved.

They'll remain on leave at least through Monday so they can have time to consult with a mental health professional, a standard precaution.

The Cuyahoga County Coroner is expected to perform an autopsy to determine Fitton's exact cause of death.

It's believe Fitton had been drinking earlier in the day.

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