Early Release Domestic Violence Shooter Had 64 Guns
Judge regrets his decision to let him out early.
The system fails people. We all know it. But sometimes the cases in which the system fails people also fail explanation. In this case in Newark, Ohio, a judge is regretting his decision to let a man out of jail on early release after he shot himself, his ex-girlfriend and her co-worker, and a police chief.
It all happened earlier in May, a month after Thomas Hartless (what a name), 43, was released early from jail. He had served 20 days of a 90-day sentence. The Judge, Licking County Municipal Judge Michael Higgins, said he was heartbroken after the fatal shootings. The judge released Hartless, who wasn’t supposed to have weapons. But apparently a probation officer never checked his home, where authorities alter found 64 guns.
Marlina Medrano, a nurse at Pine Kirk Care Center nursing home, had sought protective orders against Hartless in connection with domestic violence. She was shot multiple times with a handgun and a shotgun. Her co-worker, nurse’s aide Cindy Krantz, was killed with a shotgun. Police Chief Steven DiSario died from a shotgun wound outside the nursing home. The shooter also shot himself. DiSario was 38 years old and had only been on the job for about three weeks.
The community came together for the funerals. But it would have been so much better if they did not have to “come together” for the funerals of three people who should not have been victims.
I believe if a man is charged with domestic violence that every effort should be made to make sure that he is not a threat and/or does not have access to guns. Domestic violence and access to guns is all too often a death sentence for the woman (or man, but most often woman) involved in the situation. If he had not been released early, maybe he would have shot the people after his 90 days was up. But regardless, someone should have inspected his house before he was sent home.
A review of the early release process found some flaws in the state’s system. The three probation officers who were involved in the handling of this case face disciplinary action, and the director of the court’s Adult Probation Department says he may face discipline too. We think that’s fair, since four people are dead.
Image of a memorial for the victims from usnews.com