A neighbor paints a violent picture of the man who opened fire at the Pine Kirk Care Center this morning in Kirkersville, Ohio, east of Columbus.
Thomas Hartless, 43, of Utica was identified as the shooter by Licking Count Sheriff Randy Thorp. Authorities say he turned a gun on himself after fatally shooting three others: Kirkerville Police Chief Eric DiSario, 36; nurse’s aide Cindy Krantz, 48; and Hartless’ ex-girlfriend and registered nurse Marlina Medrano, whose age was not available.
Connie Long watched as a special weapons and tactics team and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation searched Hartless’ house across the street in the 300 block of Oakland Avenue in Utica.
“I wasn’t surprised at all this morning, unfortunately. I'm just sad to hear so many innocent people died," she said. “I just knew he was a ticking time bomb.”
The home is owned by Hartless’ parents, but he has lived there the majority of time, Long said, expect when he briefly lived out of the county and when he served a prison term after he was charged with abduction in 2009. Long said that case also involved Medrano, who lived on Oakland Avenue and worked at the nursing home, 205 E. Main St. in Kirkersville.
“My daughter and I had just rescued this girl. He had arrived at the neighbor’s house and he started kicking her and beating her. She ran to our house for help,” Long said of the incident during the day of March 6. “He drove in our yard to run her over and kill her.”
Long said Hartless drove through the bushes up to the porch, and that Medrano was only a step ahead when she and her daughter pulled her into their house to safety.
Besides the March domestic violence charge, there were two other misdemeanor domestic violence charges against Hartless, for Jan. 14 and Dec. 5, 2016. In March he pleaded guilty and was released in April, with the rest of his sentence suspended. Just last week, an emergency protection order was issued on behalf of Medrano against Hartless, with a second hearing scheduled for May 18, court records show.
After Hartless was released from jail, Long took to social media to warn residents of Licking County. Her April 12 Facebook post, was month to the day of the slayings.
Before the March 6 incident, Long said she and Hartless got along, and that he mostly kept to himself. But afterwards, she lived in fear because she was a witness against him.
“We’re just very much on guard,” she said.
Long said she had called the prosecutor’s office and the law director’s office about Hartless’ case.
“I’m frustrated with the judicial system,” she said, that he was released from jail and that his cases kept getting delayed. Also, she said he should have had more than misdemeanor charges.
Court records show that Hartless’ criminal history dates back to an assault charge in 1992.