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Suspect shot by Butler Co. detective planned ‘suicide by cop,’ sheriff says

Bond set at $200K for suspect
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 3:13 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A 26-year-old man shot by an acting detective with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office was planning “suicide by cop,” Sheriff Richard Jones said.

Sheriff’s officials and a federal agent with Homeland Security went to a residence in the 4200 block of Jennifer Drive in Ross Township with a search warrant as part of a child pornography investigation.

They were let into the house by Alex Hoskins’ parents, who own the home, according to Sheriff Richard Jones.

He said during a news conference Tuesday Hoskins primed a handgun so it was ready to fire and came down the stairs, pointing it at deputies.

At that point, Sheriff Jones said, “we have to assume there was one (round) in the chamber.

“The deputies could hear a round being placed with the handle of the weapon, priming a weapon, and if you’ve ever heard that sound and been on the receiving end, there is what we call a ‘pucker factor’ and scares you and very much puts you on your toes,” Sheriff Jones said.

Deputies warned Hoskins to drop the gun before they fired at him.

Sheriff Jones said Hoskins’ family, who also were in the home, urged him to drop the weapon as well, to no avail.

“It appears that the suspect wanted to commit suicide by cop, which is sad that he chose to have our officer shoot him and you can’t point guns at the police. You can, but bad things will happen. The police don’t have to wait until they are shot or shot at to shoot. They get to go home every night.”

The acting detective fired only one round round, which struck Hoskins in the hand and chest, Sheriff Jones has told FOX19 NOW.

Hoskins did not fire his weapon.

Sheriff Jones said deputies had no choice but to defend themselves when the gun was pointed at them: “From everything I’ve seen, it looks like a good shoot.”

Authorities performed life-saving measures on Hoskins at the scene, according to the sheriff.

First responders took him to Fort Hamilton Hughes Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Hoskins was released and taken to the Butler County Jail Monday night one a single count of felonious assault and three felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.

He appeared in Hamilton County Municipal Court Tuesday for a brief arraignment Tuesday morning.

An assistant prosecutor told Judge Daniel Gattermeyer authorities received a cyber tip about Hoskins from an app.

His bond was set at $200,000.

Hoskins was moved after his arraignment from Butler County to the Warren County Jail , where Sheriff Jones says they have a facility to better address his shooting wounds.

According to the sheriff’s office, Hoskins confessed in an interview Monday to possessing child porn as well as sending and receiving child porn images and videos.

During the interview, authorities discovered Hoskins believed before they arrived at his house Monday that he was under investigation and had prepared for a confrontation with investigators by recently purchasing a firearm, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

More charges are likely to be presented to a grand jury, and the investigation remains ongoing.

“Our investigators are working the case as we speak (...) and we are working on additional search warrants for his electronic devices, and we expect the charges will change, either be upped or more added as the investigation continues,” Sheriff Jones said.

He said they seized computers, cell phones and anything electronic used to transmit pornographic images of children, ones he described as extremely graphic, over the internet.

He said it was too soon to say if local children were victimized.

Investigators are still reviewing videos seized as evidence.

But as it stands now already, the sheriff says, Hoskins is “looking at lots and lots of time” in jail.

Hoskins’ parents, in the meantime, have been very cooperative with investigators.

“Great people. They understand what took place,” Sheriff Jones said. “I talked to them personally, our detectives did. Just great people. You can’t always decide what your children do as an adult. It’s no way their fault, at all.”

The acting detective who fired at Hoskins was not hurt.

He is on paid administrative leave, which is customary in police-involved shootings.

On Monday, the sheriff identified him to FOX19 NOW as Ricky Phillips.

“Anytime somebody makes a police officer shoot them, shame on them and to put officers through this, it’s stressful enough being a police officer in this day and time and if you’re a coward enough to make a police officer shoot you, shame on you,” Sheriff Jones said.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office investigates typically conducts their own deputy-involved shootings.

However, in this case, Jones said he opted to ask the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to investigate because the acting detective who shot Hoskins recently shot another armed suspect, during a SWAT standoff in January.

A Butler County grand jury recently reviewed all evidence in the case and declined to issue an indictment.

Sheriff Jones has only high praise for Acting Detective Phillips: “Great guy. Great officer. Couldn’t ask for a better officer. Very, very proud of him.”

Sheriff Jones said he’s been talking privately with the deputy and called him at home last night and he’s doing as well as can be expected given the situation.

“He was a great deputy sheriff and now he is a great acting detective. He rose up through the ranks. He is a team leader on our SWAT team, he volunteers for everything.

“He comes to work, he helps people everyday, his supervisors love him and we thought enough to make him an acting detective until there is a (promotional) exam in June. I’ve been in contact with him, talking with him. I’ve assured him that this investigation will hopefully be complete within 30 to 40 days. If he needs anything from us, we’re in constant contact with him and hopefully soon we can get him back to work.”

BCI is expected to take four to six weeks to conduct their review, which will go onto Prosecutor Mike Gmoser. The Butler County Prosecutor’s Office presents all police-involved shooting cases to the grand jury, as routine policy.

There is no sheriff’s body camera video of the incident because the Butler County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have the devices.

Sheriff Jones has repeatedly said in the past when asked about this or when he would get the cameras that his agency doesn’t have the budget to support that expense.

It’s not the purchase of the cameras that is so expensive, he said, as the requirement to then store all video and hire additional staff to monitor it.

“I actually trust my deputies. I trust law enforcement,” Sheriff Jones said. “How I even find anybody to be a deputy sheriff or to work in law enforcement with today’s atmosphere is unbelievable with all that’s going on in the country, all the attacks on law enforcement for just doing their jobs and trying to go home alive at the end of their shift.

“You’re always second guessed. But when you’re in those steps and someone is pointing a gun at you, you don’t get to go get our manual out and look up what should I do in this situation. You gotta react if you want to go home.”

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