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Ex-cop Michael Lavery says acting to stop Ohio gunman was natural

Police identified the shooter in an Ohio shooting rampage as Michael Hance, 51, Aug. 8, 2011.
CBS/Copley Police Department
Police identified the shooter in an Ohio shooting rampage as Michael Hance, 51, Aug. 8, 2011.
Police identified the shooter in an Ohio shooting rampage as Michael Hance, 51, Aug. 8, 2011.
CBS/Copley Police Department

(CBS/WOIO/AP) COPLEY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Michael Lavery, a former police officer credited with helping stop a gunman who police say killed seven people, says he was terrified but said reacted the way he was trained.

Pictures: 8 dead in Ohio shooting rampage

"It just comes down to part of my DNA," said Lavery in an interview Monday with WKYC-TV of Cleveland.  He lives in the suburban Akron neighborhood where police said Michael Hance went on a shooting rampage.

Hance, apparently angry with his girlfriend, gunned down two people outside a home and two more in a car Sunday morning. He then chased down another victim in a rampage that left eight dead, including himself. Hance was then shot by police, authorities and witnesses said.

The shootings started around 11 a.m. at a home where Hance lived with his girlfriend, 49-year-old Rebecca Dieter. She was shot multiple times, but is the only survivor in the massacre. She is currently hospitalized in unknown condition, reports CBS affiliate WOIO.

Hance then opened fire in the neighborhood. Five people were shot and killed. Two 16-year-old teens were shot in a car in the driveway and killed, reports the station.

One of those victims in the car has been identified as Autumn Johnson. Her father, 44-year-old Bryan Johnson, was also shot and killed. The other victims include Craig Dieter, 51, Russell Johnson, 67, and Gudrun Johnson, according to WOIO.

Hance then tracked down 11-year-old Scott Dieter, Craig Dieter's son and Rebecca Dieter's nephew, hiding in the basement of a home he sought refuge in. Hance then fatally shot the child, the station reports.

Hance was finally confronted by a Copley police officer and Lavery. Hance threatened the two men and they opened fire and killed him. He had no prior criminal record. Police are still working to determine a motive.

Hance had recently grown angry over residents' comments about the property where he lived with Dieter, neighbor Carol Eshleman said. About a month ago, Hance's next-door neighbor Gudrun "Gerdie" Johnson had asked Hance to clean up the property, which included a broken-down car on blocks.

Johnson related the encounter to Eshleman, explaining that she'd never seen Hance so upset. "He said, `Get off my property and don't come back,"' Eshleman said.

The dispute apparently dated to when Rebecca Dieter's brother, Craig, wanted the house sold, but instead Hance and Becky Dieter moved in, Eshleman said.

Another neighbor, Gilbert Elie, said one of the Johnsons had complained about the property to a councilwoman in the neighborhood. Messages seeking comment from Copley Township Trustee Helen Humphreys, who lives nearby, were not returned Monday and it was not clear if there was ever a formal complaint made.

Copley Township is a town of about 14,000 people outside Akron, about 40 miles south of Cleveland in northeast Ohio.

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