Through a camera lens, fatal shootout was a horrible sight

I went to Enon Beach Campground on Saturday morning hoping to get a photo of someone surrendering peacefully, with their hands up in the air.

It’s all I ever want to get a photo of when I rush to the scenes of 911 calls.

But that morning would be different.

My wife, Rhonda, and I had just left the McDonald’s restaurant in Enon when I heard a shots fired call come over the police scanner in my car.

Someone had fired into a trailer at Enon Beach. The man inside called 911 and said he was too afraid to go outside and look who did it.

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Shots-fired calls are not rare. People call 911 about hunters, there are calls about loud noises in neighborhoods. I don’t go to every one.

But we drove over for this one. It was New Years Day and who knew what late-night partiers might have still been up?

I was parked across from the entrance of Enon Beach, waiting, when Clark County Sheriffs Deputy Suzanne Hopper drove in. She pulled her car down the campground lane then I lost sight of her as she drove back behind trees and campers.

I had last talked to Deputy Hopper on Christmas Eve. I run into her from time to time, and she was reminding me to take pictures of a charity volleyball tournament she had helped to organize. Sure, I told her, send me an e-mail with details, I said.

Outside Enon Beach I waited. Nothing. Over the radio she said that there was no sign of a shooter and that she was investigating. A second officer was almost there. The call started to take on a familiar ring of a low-level investigation. Rhonda and I were hungry, and I had a video from New Years Eve to get onto our website, so we left.

We were all the way into Springfield and had gotten a bagel at Tim Horton’s when my scanner exploded again.

“69 is down. I repeat 69 is down and I can’t check her.”

I know the sergeant who was calling for help. He does not panic; he has been through a lot. It takes a lot to make him upset, but he sounded distraught.

“She’s down, she’s down. I can’t check her.”

By the time I had turned my car around and sped back to Enon Beach, police, deputies and highway patrol officers were pouring into the grounds. I pulled in behind German Twp. Patrolman Jeremy Blum, and watched him run toward the scene.

No one seemed to know where to go. Officers were behind trees and running throughout the campground, but at first no one seemed to know where the trouble was.

I heard Sheriff Gene Kelly’s voice and moved through a group of trailers, and saw deputies staying behind trees. I pulled out a video camera and my still camera. I never know what’s going to happen. It may end up being nothing, but I end up shooting whatever I can.

I saw Kelly talking with Maria Blessing, Michael Ferryman’s companion.

The sheriff and officers went across a road. I saw them move up to a trailer and start shouting at someone in a small, silver trailer: “Michael, come out with your hands up.”

WHIO videographer Eric Higgenbotham was behind me filming, so I put down my video camera and focused my still camera.

Then the shooting started. All I heard was shots fired and then the trailer went to pieces. I heard a couple of people shouting. I have no idea who shot first. I saw Officer Blum get into a position and I thought, “He’s going to get hurt.”

He screamed, tried to get up, fell back, and crawled to safety.

The shooting went on only a few seconds. It seemed like a long time but it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. This happened so fast. It was muffled.

I’ve heard guns fired before, but I’ve never heard so many at one time. Seeing someone being shot, standing, struggling was hard. Had Ferryman been alive after the barrage, Blum would have been an easy target.

Then things slowed down and got quiet. I don’t think they knew what to think. Officers kept coming in and moving around. As soon as the SWAT team showed up a perimeter was established and we were moved away to Enon Road.

From the road we saw smoke – they probably sent in a smoke bomb to help cover the guys who were going to go in and try to reach Deputy Hopper.

A short time later, she was brought out in an armored car and transferred to a medic. I know a lot of the law enforcement officers at the scene and I could tell by the look on their faces that things were not good.

It was a calm chaos. Everyone was trying to do their best and get there. Interstate 70, the railroad and Route 4 were all shut down. It was eerie; I saw no traffic moving. Nothing. An air ambulance flew in and left.

It seemed like it took forever, but it was only about two hours.

As soon as fellow Springfield News-Sun photographer Bill Lackey arrived I left for the paper.

We waited for confirmation from the sheriff’s office on who was struck and how badly, but I was afraid I already knew.

After putting photos and videos up on our web site, for the paper, and to the Associated Press, I got home shortly after midnight.

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