HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said Wednesday he's asked Children Services to investigate whether a 10-year-old boy who was held hostage in a 30-hour SWAT standoff has been neglected or abused.
The suspect, Donald Gazaway, is accused of firing 20 to 30 shots at deputies and a SWAT team while using Sincere Trammell, a fourth grader, as a human shield, the sheriff has said. SWAT equipment was hit: an armored vehicle with officers inside and a robot.
No one was hurt. Officers did not return fire for fear of inflaming the situation and Gazaway further, risking the boy's safety even more.
The standoff unfolded late Friday through early Sunday inside an apartment and then in a garage at Springs at Liberty Township off Hamilton-Mason Road.
It ended when Gazaway surrendered with the boy.
The sheriff said Gazaway, who is on parole and was released from prison in July after serving time on a felonious assault conviction, never should have been in the apartment or around the child.
As a condition of his parole, Gazaway is prohibited from having guns but was found with three and smoked marijuana in front of the child during the standoff, according to the sheriff's office.
"Anytime we have a child involved and we feel that there's guns involved - and this guy just got out of prison - with what went down, we feel safe to notify (Children's Services) and let them do a check and make sure everything is OK. It's better that way, let them make that determination," Jones said.
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The sheriff has bluntly criticized the boy's mother and continued to on Wednesday. He said she is not cooperating so far with their investigation into the standoff and what led up to it.
Authorities got a statement from her over the weekend and tried to reach out to her since but "she has not cooperated with us at this time. We did get a statement from the child as it was over. We got a statement from him at the hospital, but we haven't got anything additional from the mother at this point."
She ran out of her apartment with the boy's uncle, leaving her son behind, when a dispute with Gazaway over money turned violent and Gazaway pulled a gun late Friday, he said.
On Wednesday, the sheriff revealed Gazaway demanded $10,000 in cash from her. Gazaway, he said, believed she had such a large sum of money at hand, in the apartment.
She refused and told authorities he pistol-whipped her, according to Jones.
"I don't know many mothers if any at all that would leave their 10-year-old son or daughter in the house with some guy that's holding their son or daughter with a gun," he said.
It also was revealed Wednesday Gazaway was found with there guns including an AK-47 and live rounds.
Gazaway's young hostage told FOX19 NOW in an interview earlier this week Gazaway had four guns.
Jones said he could only confirm Gazaway had two guns: a .40-caliber Glock pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle.
In court Wednesday, a sheriff's detective testified Gazaway was actually found with a total of three guns, including a rifle.
It appears Gazaway may have fired only the pistol at officers and fired the assault rifle to shoot up the apartment, Jones said.
"It doesn't appear he was using (the AK-47) and we are very thankful for that," Jones said. "Those are very accurate and can go a long distance. The bullets can penetrate lots. The pistol like the one he was using cannot go a long distance. We are all lucky."
Jones declined to say how many rounds were fired at the SWAT team but he did acknowledge Gazaway "trashed" the apartment and "it was shot up pretty good. The toilet was shot and water flooded the house. It poured everywhere."
Gazaway remains at the Butler County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond. He's charged with felonious assault, kidnapping and inducing panic.
He appeared in Butler County Area II Court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Butler County Sheriff's Detective Joe Nerlinger testified that Gazaway told authorities after he surrendered that he gave up because he was tired of dealing with law enforcement.
"He said he was done and we were driving him crazy," Nerlinger said.
The detective also testified that investigators found and removed 25 bullet casings from the scene. Gazaway, they believe, fired most of them from the apartment before moving with the boy into the backseat of a car in a nearby garage.
Judge Kevin McDonough ruled there was enough evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury for consideration for indictment.
A grand jury is now expected to hear the case next week.
It'll be up to the prosecutor and an ongoing investigation into the incident if more charges are filed, Jones said.
Gazaway is on parole and was released from prison in July after serving four years on a felonious assault conviction out of Hamilton County. He was convicted of shooting a run into a crowd of 30 people at a party in Cleves, court records show.
As a condition of his parole, Gazaway was prohibited from having guns. His arrest violates his parole and, due to the seriousness of the charges, all but guarantees he will return to prison to finish serving out the remainder of his sentence.
"He knows he's going to prison for a long time, and I think he likes the attention," Jones said Wednesday "The gloves are off and we are not in the cold, we are not in the environment. We are where we are very comfortable: in the courtroom.
"I think the guy was enjoying the whole thing. He was taunting us the whole time he was shooting at us. He kept pushing the car horn. He kept revving the engine up, flashing the lights, trying to move the car a little bit and he was shooting at us.
"He was making the garage door go up and down until we disabled the garage door. There's no reason to do that other than to taunt us and on occasion, he would shoot at us. At one point, I wasn't sure that he wasn't going to make us shoot at him."
An incident report released Wednesday provided even more new detail: why authorities arrested the boy's uncle, Rodderick Trammell, in the early stages of the standoff.
The Fairfield man was charged with disorderly conduct after deputies say they had to remove him from the scene. He was booked into the jail by 9:30 a.m. Saturday and released on bond about 24 hours later.
Trammell told authorities he could talk Gazaway into surrendering due to their personal relationship, the report states.
"Mr. Trammell was highly agitated from the start,"reads the report's "Statement of Facts."
"He repeatedly tried to ignore officers and enter the home. He kept saying 'y'all don't know me. I'm different I got my own way of doing things.'
"He was given the chance to talk to the suspect but he kept getting agitated with officers and was arguing with the negotiators. He then told officers if they shoot his friend and nephew they are going to deal with him.
"At this point, he was asked to leave the scene. Mr. Trammell returned and was told to stay in the car with the family. After the suspect fired rounds out of the home, Mr. Trammell again disobeyed the order of Law Enforcement and exited the vehicle and began yelling and trying to get to the house."
At that point, he was taken into custody.