A dispute involving teenagers in Kettering on Sunday night after an incident flared up at AlterFest ended with the shooting of a 16-year-old police say had nothing to do with the dispute.
- Autopsy done today on Ronnie Bowers, 16
- Ronnie Bowers is an organ donor
- Three suspects ranging from age 14 to 16 remain in custody
- Suspect Miles Heizer, 18, previously charged with felonious assault in attack with a baseball bat in March, was released
- 14-year-old suspect has criminal history stemming back to 2014
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UPDATE @ 2:51 p.m. (Sept. 8):
The coroner’s office has officially ruled Ronnie Bowers’ death a homicide after he died from a gunshot wound to the head.
UPDATE @ 1:46 p.m.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office now has the body of Ronnie Bowers and is conducting an autopsy. His mother, Jessica Combs, addressed the media today and said her son was an organ donor.
A GoFundMe account set up for the family of Ronnie Bowers has raised more than $10,700 of the $10,000 goal, as of early Thursday morning. The family is expected to address the media later today.
Bowers, 16, died Tuesday night after being shot in the back of the head near AlterFest while seeking to leave a dispute in which police said he was “an innocent bystander.”
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office announced Bowers’ death late Tuesday night. He was declared brain dead and his organs will be harvested, according to a coroner’s investigator.
A memorial service for Bowers is scheduled for Sunday in the Fairmont auditorium, 3301 Shroyer Road.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the family will receive and greet visitors, according to the high school and Routsong Funeral Home. A service is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called the fatal shooting of Bowers near AlterFest Sunday night “a horrible tragedy.”
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare that your child is randomly shot,” DeWine said. “It’s just horrible.”
DeWine said there is no easy solution to the juvenile violence that has impacted the area.
“I’m mostly convinced that what we really need to do is start in kindergarten, first grade, all the way to 12th grade, have something that is age specific … that also has some data behind it that actually works as far as education and prevention,” DeWine said. “I don’t think there’s any easy answer. If there was an easy answer, we would have found it before now.”
Kettering police said Wednesday morning they will wait until the department has an update on the charges in the shooting case before releasing any new information.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said Kettering Police had plans to meet again with the office to discuss charges against 18-year-old suspect Miles Heizer after he was released from custody Tuesday night, according to Greg Flannagan, spokesman for the prosecutors office.
That meeting was scheduled to take place in two weeks. However, it’s unclear whether that will change now that Bowers has died from his injuries.
Four people — including three juveniles — were detained in connection to the shooting. Heizer was released from the Kettering jail, pending further investigation, police said Tuesday.
Of the three juvenile suspects that remain in custody, one has a criminal record dating back to 2014. The two 16-year-old suspects have no prior criminal history with the juvenile court, according to the court administrator.
Heizer has a previous charge of felonious assault stemming from a baseball bat attack in March. The three other teen suspects in Sunday’s shooting were ordered detained by a judge Tuesday.
Those three suspects — two of them are 16 and the third is 14 — appeared in the Montgomery County Juvenile Court on felonious assault charges, but there was no mention of who fired the shot that initially injured Bowers.
This news organization is not identifying the juveniles by name at this time.
Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi said the juveniles will remain in custody until a Sept. 27 court date because they are “charged with heinous crimes” with a “high-level of notoriety.”
“I expect significant additional filings on this matter,” Capizzi said.
According to the second-degree felony charges, the suspects “knowingly did cause serious physical harm” to Bowers. One of the 16-year-olds also faces a charge of tampering with evidence. He is accused of trying to hide a firearm, Capizzi said.
All of the suspects and the victim are students at Kettering City Schools.
Prior to Heizer’s release from jail Tuesday, Kettering jail records indicated he had been in custody since early Monday morning on a felonious assault charge.
Heizer was out on bond at the time of the shooting, stemming from a felonious assault arrest in March. The police report from that incident says he jumped out of a car at a traffic light, walked up to another car and hit a former classmate in the face with a baseball bat.
Court records show that the case was bound over to a grand jury months ago, but Heizer waived the right to speedy proceedings and there have been no filings in the case since April.
The shooting occurred at Willowdale Drive and Ackerman Boulevard about 9 p.m. Sunday.
Kettering Police Chief Christopher Protsman said the shooting had its roots in a weeks-long dispute between teenagers. Those teens were at Alter High School’s festival Sunday night, where the issue flared again.
Protsman said one group of four teens drove away, trying to avoid the altercation, but the four suspects followed in another car, eventually blocking them in a driveway on Willowdale Avenue, three blocks from Alter.
Protsman said a physical altercation took place, and Bowers — who was trying to drive away — was shot once in the back of the head. Protsman said Bowers was an innocent bystander who was not involved in the ongoing dispute.
A second person — a female — suffered a minor injury during the shooting that led to Bowers’ death, according to a Kettering police report released Wednesday.
Kettering police have not released the details surrounding that female’s injuries. A bag of marijuana also was seized during the police investigation, the report says.
Kettering Schools’ response
Kettering Schools Superintendent Scott Inskeep said there were additional counselors, security and police at Fairmont High School on Tuesday morning. He said about 30 students took advantage of time to talk about the incident Tuesday morning.
Dan Von Handorf, Kettering’s director of student services and former high school principal, said students were in shock and disbelief. The shooting came seven months after another Fairmont student, Antoine Jones, was killed in a Trotwood shooting that police said was drug-related.
Heizer was a close friend of Jones, according to his social media accounts, but Von Handorf said school officials don’t have any information that the two incidents are connected.
“You have to be prepared. There is no ZIP code that is protected from these types of issues,” Inskeep said. “We’re always keeping an eye out for societal issues that may cause disruption or safety concerns at the schools.”
Some students mentioned on social media that they were scared or shaken up by the incident. Jace Roberts, a junior at Kettering’s alternative school, said he feels safe at school, but questioned some students’ attitude.
“Kids these days think they’re untouchable, can’t get in trouble,” Roberts said. “Think they can carry guns around and they’re not going to shoot nobody, but they did.”