A note found on Michael Wilson-Salzl after he was fatally shot by a Hamilton police officer said “bye, bey.”
When the 24-year-old’s mother was told of her son’s death, she said she wasn’t surprised, Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said during a press conference one day after a grand jury returned no indictment for the officer involved.
The mother, Bucheit said, told police that she agonized about getting a call like the one she received April 22 because her son struggled with mental issues.
“She said please let the officer know I am sorry he had to do that,” Bucheit said he was told by the woman.
The chief said Wilson-Salzl’s family are “good, decent people” who did everything they could to help the young man.
Wilson-Salzl called 911 shortly before 3 p.m. on April 22 and told dispatchers someone had been shot in the parking lot of the Knollwood Crossings apartment complex. He gave a description of the alleged shooter, but was evasive about his exact address and also gave dispatchers a fake name.
The call got Officer Steven McFall to the apartment complex quickly after clearing another call just two miles away.
But as McFall approached Forest Park Drive, his heightened awareness lessened because he did not see people reacting as they would if there had been a shooting and he also wondered why there had only been one 911 call, Bucheit said.
Without lights and sirens activated, McFall saw people in the parking lot, including Wilson-Salzl by the dumpsters.
“He thought he (Wilson-Salzl) might have information,” Bucheit said.
That is when Wilson-Salzl advanced on McFall, who was still in his cruiser with the window rolled down, the chief said. With the both hands up and a knife in one of them pointed toward the officer, Wilson-Salzl advanced to within 12 feet of McFall.
McFall yelled “put it down, put it down” and fired three shots when Wilson-Salzl did not comply.
The audio was captured on the 911 call in the phone still in Wilson-Salzl’s hand. Wilson-Salzl died at the scene.
The shooting was not captured on McFall’s cruiser came early because it occurred parallel to the car, Bucheit said Tuesday.
It was not the first time Wilson-Salzl lured officers to the apartment complex in an apparent attempt of “suicide by cop”
In March 2016, Wilson-Salzl called 911 and was holding wood taped together to perhaps look like a gun. Officers arrived and drew their weapons. That time Wilson-Salzl was talked down by police, but was pretty clear about what he wanted when an officer talked to him after the incident.
In cruiser camera video of the 2016 incident obtained by the Journal-News on Tuesday, Wilson-Salzl tells officers, “I just want to get shot.” Then, sitting in the backseat, of the police vehicle he says, “I couldn’t find anything else to kill myself with.”
Bucheit said the 2016 incident was different from April 22, because of the distance between Wilson-Salzl and the officers.
After the 2016 incident, police placed a warning with dispatchers on Wilson-Salzl’s name and the address. Bucheit believes that is why the man mislead dispatchers on April 22.
McFall, a 17-year veteran of the force, remains on administrative leave and is receiving counseling. On Monday, a grand jury declined to indict him on any criminal charges of wrong doing. Bucheit said McFall acted appropriately under the circumstances.
“He (McFall) is struggling,” Bucheit said. “I’m proud of him. In my mind, he’s a hero not for the actions he was forced to take, but for rushing to the scene with the intent of placing himself in harm’s way to protect others.”
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