A warrant used to seize an arsenal of guns and weapons from a Yellow Springs man, who died in a six-hour standoff with police, reveals he suffered from depression and alcoholism triggering concerns by law enforcement and his mother that he would harm himself or others.
The Dayton Daily News obtained a copy of the 2009 search warrant, signed by Xenia Municipal Court Judge Michael Murry. Yellow Springs Police Department used the warrant to confiscate handguns, pistols, rifles, shotguns, ammunition and bulletproof vests from 42-year-old Paul E. Schenck’s home .
Documents unsealed Friday at the request of Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller and related to the 2009 incident show Schenck was granted intervention in lieu of conviction.
Schenck died during a standoff with police on July 31. The incident remains under investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“I think we’re going to see a national push for changes with mental health and guns,” said Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer.
The Deputy Suzanne Hopper Act, signed into law in June, requires courts to alert law enforcement agencies and offices when it orders mental health treatment for a defendant convicted of a violent crime. The court must also report the conditional release of a person who has been found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity.
Fischer said this law would not have helped the Yellow Springs Police officers who initially responded to Schenck’s home in July because the outcome of the 2009 case would not have required the court to notify police.
Schenck’s mother, Uta Schenck, went to the police station the day after the 2009 incident and spoke to Paul Grote, the police chief at the time. She said she was concerned because her son had attempted suicide in the past and she was worried that he might hurt himself or someone else.
“Uta Schenck asked Chief Grote to secure the weapons in her son’s house,” Detective Rich Miller wrote.
Uta Schenck could not be reached this week for comment.
A year after police confiscated the weapons, ammunition and safety vests from Schenck’s home, a court order forced police to return the items.
Yellow Springs police had responded to Schenck’s home on Feb. 2, 2009 after receiving complaints that he was drunk and disorderly. The responding officer, Tim Knoth, reported Schenck was “unsteady on his feet” and had slurred speech. When Schenck walked toward the officer, as instructed, he pulled a loaded semi-automatic gun from his waistband. Knoth disarmed him and took him into custody. During a search, police also found Schenck had a handcuff key sewn into his clothes.
During an interview with investigators at the jail the next day, Schenck said he didn’t remember the events from the previous night that led to his arrest.
He told investigators he had an addiction to alcohol and recently experienced three blackouts after drinking bourbon.
Schenck also said he had been depressed about “financial situations.”
“Schenck admitted that he has been thinking of killing himself recently,” Miller wrote.
After the warrant was signed on Feb. 3, Yellow Springs Police entered Schenck’s studio apartment located on the same land as his parent’s house.
“… it is our belief that any delay in the seizure of the listed firearms might result in personal injury to Police Officers, the subject involved, or citizen of the community,” Miller wrote.
Officers left with 29 items that included firearms, ammunition and body armor.
At least four guns, a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun, two AK-47 rifles and a Springfield Armory pistol, that were confiscated at Schenck’s home by police in 2009 were also included in the list of evidence collected after the standoff in July by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Schenck was convicted of obstructing official business in connection with the 2009 incident where he pulled a gun on the officer.
State law bans felons and anyone who is drug dependant, at risk of being drug dependent or a chronic alcoholic from owning a gun. Police can confiscate a firearm when a crime is committed, there is a risk of domestic violence, the court has issued a protection order or a 72-hour mental evaluation has been ordered.
Grote said, in previous interview with the Dayton Daily News, he had been concerned about returning the weapons to Schenck but he had no choice and had to comply with the court order.
In the July incident, 63 law enforcement units from a dozen agencies in the region were stationed outside Schenck’s home where he died during the shoot-out with police.
Two Greene County Sheriff’s deputies fired their weapons during the standoff, however BCI has not determined whether Schenck was killed by law enforcement or if he took his own life.
BCI declined to comment stating the incident is still under investigation.
“We’ve got to be more vigilant, as a nation, to do our best to take care of these people and keep them away from guns” Fischer said.