41.5 years for gunman who held child hostage in standoff

41.5 years for gunman who held child hostage in standoff

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - The gunman convicted of holding a small boy hostage during a 34 hour-long standoff was sentenced to 41.5 years in prison Monday.

Donald Gazaway, 31, was convicted in an October jury trial of charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, inducing panic, aggravated burglary and having weapons while under disability.

The fifth grader Gazaway held against his will testified during the trial. Seated on the witness stand, Sincere Trammel, who is now 11, recalled the ordeal inside his mother’s Liberty Township condominium.

Gazaway kept him in a closet and then a car parked in the garage over 34 hours the bitterly cold weekend of Jan. 12-14.

The standoff unfolded over the weekend of Jan. 12-14 at Springs at Liberty Township apartment complex off Hamilton-Mason Road near Ohio 129. (FOX19 NOW/file)
The standoff unfolded over the weekend of Jan. 12-14 at Springs at Liberty Township apartment complex off Hamilton-Mason Road near Ohio 129. (FOX19 NOW/file)

The boy was taken hostage late Jan. 12 after Gazaway allegedly argued with the boy’s mother inside her condo and demanded thousands in cash. according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

The dispute escalated when she refused to turn over any money, and fled the condo with the boy’s uncle, leaving her son behind, sheriff’s officials have said.

Gazaway refused to emerge with Sincere, Sheriff Richard Jones has said, and deputies responded to the condo shortly after.

Shortly after, Gazaway fired at them, using the boy as a human shield, they took cover and the SWAT team was summoned. But he fired more shots at SWAT team members once they arrived.

At one point, he moved from the inside of the condo to the attached garage, forcing the boy to come with him and into a car inside. He started the vehicle and remained inside with Sincere for the next 24 hours, most of the standoff.

In all, Gazaway fired about 25 shots at authorities, the sheriff has said, striking an armored SWAT vehicle while SWAT officers were inside, and a SWAT robot, the sheriff has said.

No one was hit.

The SWAT team not return fire for fear of the child’s safety.

Instead, they parked their armored vehicle behind the garage and car, blocking Gazaway in, and waited him out.

In an interview with FOX 19 NOW earlier this year, Sincere said at first, in the beginning of the standoff, he felt like Gazaway wasn’t going to let him go.

But when authorities delivered McDonald's meals to Sincere and Gazaway, Sincere said Gazaway gave him most of the food and water.

“I was a little bit scared but he made sure I felt comfortable and things like that,” Sincere said in January. “He kept saying he was gonna let me go regardless.”

Jones said the SWAT team listened as the boy cried, begged to be released and asked Gazaway why he was doing this to him.

Sincere Trammell eats a doughnut and wears a fire coat Sunday. This is picture was taken just minutes after he was released by a man who held him hostage during a 30-hour SWAT standoff in Liberty Township. (Photo: Courtesy Butler County Sheriff's Office)
Sincere Trammell eats a doughnut and wears a fire coat Sunday. This is picture was taken just minutes after he was released by a man who held him hostage during a 30-hour SWAT standoff in Liberty Township. (Photo: Courtesy Butler County Sheriff's Office)

But the gunman refused to let the small boy go, not even to allow him to use the bathroom, at least that they could see.

The wait dragged on so long, SWAT teams from West Chester and Hamilton arrived to relieve the sheriff’s exhausted SWAT team. They had worked nearly 24 hours straight in single digit temperatures.

Finally, the car ran out of gas before dawn Jan 14.

Gazaway surrendered, holding the boy’s body in front of his, using the child as a shield one final time, sheriff’s officials have said.

The gunman was immediately taken into custody, and the SWAT team took Sincere to safety.

Two days later, the sheriff released a photo to FOX19 NOW showing the boy in the first minutes after his release.

He was photographed sitting with SWAT team members and ate a glazed doughnut.

Someone had draped a fire coat around the pajama-clad child’s shoulders to warm him.

Jones said Gazaway was found with three guns including an AK-47 and pistol.

Copyright 2018 WXIX. All rights reserved.