For the second time this year, a Warren County community is mourning the death of a couple killed in a murder-suicide sparked by a domestic dispute.
David Garrett, 39, shot and killed his ex-wife, Traci Fletcher-Garrett, 41 around 2 p.m. Sunday in the yard of her home at the end of a long driveway next to Little Miami High School, then fatally shot himself, according to police.
The Garretts were divorced on Aug. 25, 2015, but were talking about reconciliation, police said.
“We have information they were trying to get back together,” Hamilton Twp. Police Chief Scott Hughes said. “At least contemplating getting back together.”
Fletcher-Garrett’s 15-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, were at the scene. The boy escaped the home, while the girl hid in her bedroom, police said.
“We need to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers, This was a tragedy,” Hughes said Monday.
In July, Springboro went through the same ordeal after Eric Walker shot dead his wife Lauren Walker and himself and wounded her brother in their driveway. Eric Walker had just learned she was leaving him and planning on taking their children.
“We would ask anybody that’s going through domestic issues to watch for those signals,” Clearcreek Twp. Police Chief John Terrill said after the February incident. “You never know.”
The Garretts were married on Sept. 4, 2010 in Loveland and lived in a home across from a park and playground in the Regency Park planned community until she moved out in June 2015.
Neighbor Kathryn Deffinger said her son and Fletcher-Garrett’s son were friends.
“They were the nicest people ever,” she said Monday, standing near the street.
Garrett apparently continued living in the home on Heaton Circle. On Monday, open bags of dog food sat on the step.
Fletcher-Garrett filed for divorce in June 2015. Her lawyer was Charles Tate. Neal Jacobs, a lawyer sharing Tate’s office, represented David Garrett.
“It was perhaps the most amicable one I have ever seen,” Tate said. “I remember her being very pleased he took it so well.”
But Tate said Fletcher-Garrett turned to him due to concerns for her safety. She claimed Garrett had changed since they had married.
“She said said he had become alarming. She said she was fearful,” Tate said.
Without notifying her husband, Fletcher-Garrett left the house on Heaton Circle and moved about five miles to the home on US 22 and Ohio 3, next to the school complex, which was placed on lockdown for more than two hours Sunday.
“Now he’s killed her. That’s terrible. She was a very nice woman. I’m very sorry to hear about it,” Tate said in a phone interview.
A 9-1-1 caller said he heard 50 shots and then the boy came “screaming out of the woods” into their neighborhood. During the call, the boy tells the caller that his mother “broke up” with Garrett and that Garrett had an AR-15 and a handgun.
On Sunday, police said Garrett was holding an assault-style rifle when they pulled up the driveway. He said he had just shot his ex-wife and asked officers to shoot and kill him before he fatally shot himself outside the home, Hughes said.
Instead, Garrett allegedly shot himself, according to authorities.
Grief counselors were on hand Monday at the high school.
Like the case in Springboro-Clearcreek Twp., Sunday’s incident was initially handled as an active-shooter case.
“The campuses of Little Miami High School and Jr. High are currently on lockdown due to an active shooter and domestic situation at a residence near the high school. Roads around the campus are closed. We will send more updates as we receive them,” said a posting on the school’s Facebook page Sunday.
Later the district posted: “Little Miami will be operating on a normal schedule for Monday, Sept. 12.”
On Facebook, people promised to pray for the children and the family.
“I’m sure they need a lot of support, a lot of prayers. I can’t imagine what they are going through,” Hughes said.
The chief said police had never been to the home in the 3000 block of E. US 22, where the double homicide was committed.
Hughes said he was unaware of any restraining order issued to keep the couple apart.
He said his department was often called into domestic disputes.
“Unfortunately we deal with domestic situations fairly frequently,” he added. “To this magnitude, no.”