Ohio pair indicted on charges linked to shootout with police officer

Two people have been indicted on charges related to a shootout on New Year's Day, when a western Ohio sheriff's deputy and the man police say shot her were killed, authorities said Friday.

The grand jury also found that law enforcement officers acted appropriately during the shootout with Michael Ferryman, Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson said. Ferryman, 57, fatally shot sheriff's Deputy Suzanne Hopper and wounded another officer before he was killed by authorities in the shootout at a trailer park near Springfield, the prosecutor said.

The grand jury reviewed the shooting investigations Thursday and indicted Jean Blessing, 81, of Englewood, on a charge of complicity to having weapons under disability for allegedly giving Ferryman the shotgun used to kill Hopper and wound the other officer, Wilson said. Blessing's daughter and Ferryman's girlfriend, Maria Blessing, was indicted on the same charge and on a charge of obstructing justice for allegedly lying to investigators about the gun, authorities said.

"It's illegal to provide a firearm to someone who has been judged to have been a mentally ill person subject to hospitalization," Wilson said.

The prosecutor said Ferryman had been ruled not guilty by reason of insanity in another shooting at police officers, which occurred in Morgan County in 2001, and spent time in a psychiatric hospital, then was conditionally released before the January shootout. He was still supposed to be monitored by mental health services, Wilson said.

Jean Blessing has said he gave Ferryman the gun to use for hunting, the Springfield News-Sun reported.

"Being a father, I thought I was doing the right thing by allowing my daughter's fiance to have a gun," he said.

Jean Blessing was released Friday from the Clark County jail on his own recognizance. A man who answered the telephone at Blessing's home said he was "not interested in talking to reporters."

Deputies were bringing Maria Blessing, 56, back to Springfield on Friday, Sheriff Gene Kelly said. She had turned herself in to authorities in Ravenna on Thursday, he said. It was not known whether she had an attorney.

Authorities revealed more details about the Jan. 1 shootout and what led up to it. Wilson said Ferryman, apparently angry with a neighbor, had fired a shot through the neighbor's trailer that day. Hopper, responding to a call about the shot, walked into Ferryman's yard. Ferryman then opened his door and shot the 40-year-old mother of two in the face, killing her, the prosecutor said.

Officers responding to Hopper's shooting saw Ferryman with a gun and began shooting at him. In the exchange of gunfire, a German Township police officer was struck in the arm and Ferryman was shot six times. He had reloaded his weapon to fire it again when he was shot and killed by a sheriff's detective, Wilson said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)