Suspect in deputy shooting being held on $2M bond

The incident prompted a lengthy manhunt that paralyzed a busy part of the community for about seven hours.

Deputy Katie Barnes was resting at home after her release from University Hospital in Cincinnati, following treatment for a gunshot wound in the abdomen, Sheriff Larry Sims said during a press conference.

Mohammed Abdu Laghaoui, 19, was in being held in the Warren County Jail while awaiting arraignment Monday morning in Mason Municipal Court on charges of attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder and felonious assault.

Authorities were unsure of the condition of Laghaoui’s father, although Sims said injuries from a hand wound could require surgery.

Sims was unable to say what prompted the domestic dispute that brought Barnes back to Laghaoui’s apartment in the Orchard Park Luxury Apartments in the Landen area of Deerfield Twp. in Warren County for the second time on Thursday night.

“I don’t know why it started,” Sims said.

Laghaoui is accused of wounding Barnes with a semi-automatic rifle in what another deputy called an “ambush,” as well as his father. Laghaoui is also accused of shooting at a neighbor who went outside after hearing what he thought were firecrackers going off outside an apartment building on 8525 Jonathan Lane about 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities searched Landen Lake for the weapon Friday.

Sims alluded to the death of Deputy Brian Dulle, killed attempting to stop a suspect in 2011, in responding to questions about his reaction to reports a deputy had been wounded Thursday night.

“It’s gut wrenching for everybody in this room,” Sims said, referring to deputies lining the room where the press conference was held.

Barnes first went to the Laghaouis’ apartment after the suspect allegedly threatened to kill his father and a brother also living there. But the family members declined to press charges, which Sims said would have resulted in Laghaoui’s arrest.

About an hour later, there was a second 911 call, reporting Laghaoui had punched his father in the face and threatened to kill him and his brother at the apartment.

Although unaware there were any guns in the apartment, Barnes approached carefully, Sims said, hoping to avoid detection. But she encountered the armed Laghaoui.

“It so happens Mohammed is standing at the top of the stairs and opening fire,” Sims said. It was unclear if the suspect’s family knew he had a gun, although they had told dispatchers otherwise, according to Sims.

Barnes returned fire, although wounded “unbeknownst to her,” Sims said.

“I’ve been shot,” Barnes said in communications over police radio channels. “Send multiple units. I’ve got a suspect out with a gun. He saw my cruiser.”

The deputy, even after being shot, continued trying to locate the suspect, according to the emergency dispatch traffic.

“Suspect’s out firing shots in the neighborhood,” the deputy said in communications with 911 dispatchers during the incident.

Eventually she was able to take cover behind a wall, where she was rescued by Sgt. Billy Langdon of the sheriff’s office.

Sims said one neighbor watched as Laghaoui then went back to the apartment and fired through the door, wounding his father, who had pushed the door closed to keep him out. Another followed Laghaoui and was shot at, but not wounded, after “coming face to face” with him, the sheriff said.

After wounding Barnes and the father and firing at the neighbor, Laghaoui ran from the scene, triggering a manhunt that prompted authorities to close roads and order residents to stay inside with their homes.

“A lot of people were trapped out of their homes for hours,” Sims said.

More than 50 police cruisers, along with helicopters and police dogs, were used in the manhunt.

Laghaoui was arrested “without incident” after returning on his own to the apartment about 4:30 a.m., Sims said.

The Laghaouis could not be reached Friday.

Sims said it was “not unusual” for deputies to respond without waiting for back-up as Barnes did Thursday night, unaware Laghaoui was armed, much less carrying what authorities described as a loaded AK-47.

Laghaoui allegedly fired at least six shots, Barnes four, according to Sims. An internal investigation was ongoing, but Sims said “we are confident she did everything appropriate.”

Barnes, a graduate of Mason High School and former soccer coach, was hit in the lower abdomen, the bullet splitting the skin - but not the muscle - just underneath vest and damaging her belt.

“We feel confident she’s going to recover and come back,” Sims said.

Sims said it was the first time Barnes, a deputy since January 2012 deputy, had fired her gun.

“She was tremendous out there,” Sims said.

Sims said Laghaoui was talking with investigators and expressed hope they would learn more about what led up to the incident.

It will apparently be Laghaoui’s first appearance in the Mason court, although Sims said there had been other domestic disputes involving Laghaoui, his brother and father.

“We have not uncovered any kind of arrest record,” Sims said.

Landen residents kept in touch with each other after Deerfield Twp. issued a “shelter in place” order as law enforcement officers began closing roads and searching the wooded neighborhood community. A number of officers were searching the various trails through the neighborhoods on foot with rifles.

“It was very scary,” said Lisa Parchman, who resides in the Island Pines apartments across the street from the Orchard of Landen.

“Helicopters all around… very unusual for this part of town,” Parchman said.

Another Landen resident, Claire Kubiak, said neighbors were checking on each other Thursday night after the shelter in place notice went out.

“My first reaction was I couldn’t believe it was happening and I didn’t know what it was about” she said. “Then the neighbors started calling each other, talking about hearing gunshots and being concerned about the police sirens going by. I was like a little bit freaked out and scared because this is a not a neighborhood where that normally happens.”

Gregory Butts, who lives in the Orchard complex, said he heard yelling outside of his apartment Thursday night. He said he and his roommates looked outside their door to see what was going on and saw a SWAT vehicle arrive. He also said a friend of his was stopped by police as he was returning from a bike ride.

Jason Ratliff said he saw most of the incident Thursday night. Initially, he thought they were fireworks. However, he said the gunman took a couple of shots at him behind the apartment complex as he followed behind him to see which direction he was heading.

“About 6:30 this morning, I led the police over there to find those shell casings,” Ratliff said.

Law enforcement officers scoured the area around Landen Lake searching for the gun that was reported tossed in the lake. No gun had been reported found late Friday.

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