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Published: Wednesday, 8/25/2010

Gunfire shakes Hancock County village


BENTON RIDGE, Ohio - A fugituve shot by law enforcement officers after he led authorities on a pursuit across three counties Tuesday appeared to be armed and advancing toward officers, authorities said.

Scott E. Sprague, 41, of Lima, Ohio, was in custody at Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay. His condition was not available. Officials said his injuries didn't appear to be life-threatening.

He reportedly was being pursued by Allen County sheriff's deputies on a felony arrest warrant. The fugitive's vehicle stopped in Benton Ridge, where the driver was shot, according to the Hancock County Sheriff's Office.

The chase began in Allen County, went through Putnam County and entered Hancock County about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Hancock County Detective Sgt. Tom Blunk said. The driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a home in Benton Ridge before getting out of his vehicle and walking toward officers, Sergeant Blunk said.

"It appears at this time that the officers were getting cover, still giving commands for the person to give up," the sergeant said. "He had something in his hand that he was holding up as he was going toward the officers."

Investigators are reviewing the dashboard cameras in the police cruisers involved in the chase, he said.

A Hancock County sheriff's deputy en route to the scene was also hurt when his cruiser crashed into a woman's vehicle, Sergeant Blunk said.

The deputy was attempting to pass the woman's vehicle on State Rt. 12 when the woman attempted a left turn, the Ohio Highway Patrol said. The deputy and the woman were taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital with injuries.

Their names and conditions were not immediately released.

Hancock County sheriff's deputies are investigating the incidents involving events leading up to the shooting while the Ohio Highway Patrol will investigate the accident involving the cruiser en route to the village.

The most recent shooting incident involving a deputy in Hancock County was in 1988, Sergeant Blunk said.

Likewise, Benton Ridge residents aren't used to gunfire being exchanged in their community.

"The village of Benton Ridge is a very quiet community and, yeah, it'd be safe to say a lot of the residents were up most of the night," he said.

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