FREMONT — Three men were shot dead, including an off-duty Elmore police officer, and another man was wounded by gunfire in an early Sunday shooting in a crowded downtown Fremont bar.
Ramiro Sanchez, 28, a bartender at Last Call Bar in downtown Fremont; Elmore police Officer Jose Andy Chavez, 26, and Daniel Ramirez, 25, died after a man shot them just before 1:30 a.m. Police said the fourth victim, Ramiro Arreola, 25, was taken by helicopter to ProMedica Toledo Hospital, where he was treated and released, a hospital spokesman said.
Fremont police are searching for a suspect.
Two of the deceased victims, Mr. Ramirez and Officer Chavez, and the man who survived, Mr. Arreola, are related and were celebrating Officer Chavez’s March 2 birthday, family members said.
Two of the men were pronounced dead at the scene and the other man was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police declined to identify where each man died or the hospital. There were at least 35 people in the bar when the shots were fired, authorities said.
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The wife of Mr. Ramirez, who declined to provide her name, said she was in the bar at the time of the shooting. She told The Blade that she was punched in the face before the shooting began.
Mr. Arreola’s mother, who also declined to give her name, said her son was “doing well.” The two women consoled each other in the lobby of the Fremont police station before detectives escorted them to a private room Sunday morning.
Fremont police Chief Timothy Wiersma confirmed that the suspect was in the bar for some time before the shooting, but it was not clear if he was the one who struck Mr. Ramirez’s wife.
“There may have been an altercation that precipitated this,” Chief Wiersma said. “Things got way out of hand way too quickly.”
Police confiscated surveillance footage recorded by cameras inside and outside of the bar, the chief said.
Chief Wiersma said the off-duty police officer was a patron of the bar and not working security.
“We are reviewing video and will have it enhanced,” the chief said.
Elmore police Chief George Hayes, in a statement, said Officer Chavez was a full-time police officer since Jan. 9, 2012. He is survived by a wife and two young children, the statement said.
Neighbors near the bar, described as a Mexican cantina, reported hearing gunshots and chaos.
“I was getting ready for bed and I heard two shots,” said Jennifer Ashley, who lives across the street. “I looked and saw this little guy running and get into an SUV and drive away.”
Chris Page, who also lives across the street, said he arrived home after the shooting.
“People were outside crying and passing out,” Mr. Page said.
Mr. Page and Ms. Ashley said they saw one of the bodies just inside a side door to the bar. Blood could be seen on the steps to the bar’s side entrance.
Police say the shooter was described as a shorter man.
The Ohio Attorney General Crime Scene Unit processed the scene for evidence.
About an hour after the shooting at Last Call, a call of shots fired was reported at Night Riders Motorcycle Club, 200 Allen St. At the time, no one in the area had any information, police said, but a while later a man showed up at Fremont Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Cardell Beachum, 44, told police he was not aware he was shot until after he got home. He was also airlifted to a Toledo hospital but further information was not available about his condition.
Captain Jim White said Mr. Beachum was not cooperating with the investigation. It was unknown where he was when he was shot, he said.
Police were also looking for a suspect in that shooting.
Chief Wiersma said the two incidents were unrelated. Police are called to respond to the motorcycle club frequently, he said.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com, 419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.