The deaths of Eric and Lauren Walker last weekend in a triple shooting in Warren County left behind two young children and a community stunned by the violence.
According to reports, Eric G. Walker, 33, died at the scene of his self-inflicted shooting about 6 p.m., July 2, at their home on the edge of Springboro, moments after he shot his wife, Lauren, 32, who died at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, July 3, at Miami Valley Hospital.
The couple was living separately at the house at 1353 Whispering Woods Lane in the Woodland Greens subdivision they shared with their children and two other generations of family, Clearcreek Twp. Police Chief John Terrill said.
The shootings were apparently sparked by Eric Walker’s reaction to his wife’s decision to separate from him and move out into an apartment, according to police.
“Just a tragic day. Two kids are going to grow up without a mommy and daddy,” Terrill said.
Lauren Walker was described as a nurse at Miami Valley Hospital, although hospital officials declined to confirm reports that she worked there.
“Lauren cared and loved deeply, as a mother, daughter, friend and into becoming a nurse with Miami Valley Hospital in the Cardio Unit,” according to a statement on a Facebook page “for Lauren Walker’s girls and her brother.”
Born in Dayton, the former Lauren Michel stood 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair.
“She brought joy into our lives and is loved and cherished by her family. Lauren will be dearly missed,” her obituary said.
In addition to her mother, Sheryl Gabbard, she is survived by daughters, Alexa, 8, and Sienna, 5, along with brother Justin, stepfather Scott Gabbard, other relatives and her “second family” nursing staff, the obit said. Her father, Barry Michel, has already passed away.
Lauren Walker’s organs are to be donated.
“Tonight, Lauren is continuing to touch lives with the gift of organ donation. The group, Life Connect, a national organ matching group, made the final match for her heart and lungs. All of her vital organs, as well as tissue and cornea, will give new life to as many as fifty people. Please say a prayer for the family and girls,” a report on the organ donation said.
A bank account has been set up at Fifth Third Bank in Springboro for Alexa and Sienna. Another bank account has been established for Lauren Walker’s brother, Justin Michel, 33, who was wounded by Eric Walker during the incident in the driveway.
Supporters are also pitching in to provide meals to the survivors, including the girls and their grandparents, signing up for the Meal Train for the family of Lauren Walker, serving four adults and three children.
“Let’s gather together to assist with meals for Lauren Walker’s family. Thank you for your love and support,” a message describing the meal service said.
In addition to college funds for the girls, donations were to be used for the medical expenses of Justin Michel, who had no health insurance, according to reports.
Supporters indicated the community was stepping up in response to the tragedy.
“Springboro is a pretty tight-knit community,” said Mike Hemmert, a long-time resident.“I’ve been out here 32 years. I don’t remember anything like this ever happening before.”
Eric Walker was from the Columbus area.
He worked for Handiworks for God, a home renovation business run by Scott Gabbard, according to Terrill.
It was unclear how the couple met.
She attended Wright State University, according to registrar’s office.
The family business, Handiworks for God, was started in 2011, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“I’m sorry to tell you we are stepping away from business for a while,” a message on the home business phone last week said.
The .380-caliber pistol allegedly used in both shootings, a black Smith &Wesson Bodyguard, came from a locked trailer used for the business, according to police.
According to the initial report, the stepfather, identifying himself as Brian Gabbard, called 911 at 6:02 p.m., Saturday, July 2, to report the shootings.
“There’s been a shooting. There’s been a shooting. Please send an ambulance,” Gabbard said as the dispatcher questioned him for details.
“Oh my God, what in the world,” he said.
All three victims were laying in the driveway of the home.
The gun was next to Eric Walker.
Both Walkers were shot once in the head, Justin Michel in the upper leg or groin.
During the 911 call, Gabbard questioned Michel about his injuries, while talking to the dispatcher.
“She’s been talking about divorcing him,” Gabbard said before a Springboro police cruiser arrived.
While in Clearcreek Twp., the home is on the edge of Springboro, off Lytle-Five Points Road, east of Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro. The Settler’s Walk planned community is across Lytle-Five Points Road.
Police from Clearcreek Twp. and Franklin, including a canine involved in a car search at the time of the call, also arrived in response to the 911 call.
A detective from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office was also called in, since the township police department has no detective section, Terrill said.
Lauren Walker was flown to Miami Valley, Michel by ambulance to Atrium Medical Center.
Eric Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Terrill said Eric Walker got access to the gun by pretending he wanted drinks in the company trailer.
“He tricked the father to giving him the keys, ” Terrill said. Gabbard kept the loaded gun for protection while on job sites.
“Apparently he goes into bad neighborhoods to do some of his work,” Terrill said.
Walker had learned his wife was planning to leave him and move into an apartment.
“They told us he found out she’d signed for an apartment that morning,” Terrill said. “When she got home, he was waiting for her in the driveway.”
There was an argument, joined by Michel, before Walker shot his wife, Michel and himself.
“It all happened right in the driveway,” Terrill said.
The family had other problems following the shootings. The grandmother was taken to away by ambulance and a passing driver, curious about the case, side-swiped one of their cars in the street, Terrill said.
Last week, the family declined to comment.
“It’s just tragic for them,” Terrill said.
Visitation for Lauren Walker is to be from 3 p.m.. to 6 p.m. , Thursday, July 14, at the First Baptist Church of Springboro, 80 Greenwood Lane. Arrangements are being handled by the Baker-Hazel & Snider Funeral Home in Dayton.
Terrill said the incident reminded him of his time as a homicide detective in Middletown. But it had been about 30 years since there had been any similar case in Clearcreek Twp., he said.
“Certainly nothing of this magnitude since I’ve been here,” said Terrill, who joined the force in July 2007.
Terrill said his officers had not been called to the house before and there were no court orders related to the couple’s marital status.
No further criminal investigation is anticipated.
“Since the shooter’s deceased, there’s not a lot to deal with,” Terrill said.
Danielle Fischer, a local resident, said she biked and walked through the quiet neighborhood.
“Any type of disturbance in a neighborhood that’s so quiet like this is disturbing for anybody that lives around here, especially with it being domestic,” Fischer said.
In addition to local media, the tragedy was picked up by the Domestic Violence Crime Watch Facebook Page “raising awareness of the devastation of domestic violence with a focus on domestic violence related homicide.”
Terrill urged others going through domestic problems to be aware of the signs of potential violence and to take steps to prevent such a tragic ending.
“We would ask anybody that’s going through domestic issues to watch for those signals,” Terrill said “You never know.”