Five men who were shooting assault rifles and handguns near Ross High School Friday were arrested after several bullets hit the district’s office.
Ross Twp. police and Butler County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired around 11:21 a.m. at the Ross Local School District campus on Ohio 128 that includes the high school, middle school and administrative offices. The campus was placed on lockdown.
The shots came from behind the campus on Ohio 128 and struck the buildings, including one that went through a second-floor window of the administrative offices, flew through one office, ricocheted off a wall and landed on a desk, said school Superintendent Greg Young.
“We weren’t sure what was going on,” he said.
Young said the district’s head maintenance person heard gun shots over the hill directly behind the district office and called 911. Around the same time, the bullet flew through the window. Young wasn’t sure what was happening or why and immediately put the campus on lockdown.
“All we knew is we had gun fire and we had a bullet hit the building,” he said.
When officers and deputies arrived, they “came under heavy and continuous fire as they attempted to locate the source of the gunfire,” according to Ross Twp. police Lt. Dan Bower.
Five men —Matthew Ziegler, 29, of Cincinnati; Michael Ziegler, 27, of Cincinnati; Dennis O’Brien, 30, of Cincinnati; Brandon Oden, 29, of Cincinnati; and Derek Stark, 26, of Cincinnati — were at a farm on Herman Road and had multiple handguns and assault rifles. They complied when ordered to drop their weapons. Officers and deputies recovered four handguns, two assault rifles, one rifle and two shotguns along with about 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
All five were arrested and charged with discharging firearms near prohibited premises and inducing panic. Stark was also charged with having weapons under disability. All men are in the Butler County Jail.
Police say the men were target shooting up a hill and did not know there was a school, home and a heavily occupied construction zone on Ohio 128 behind their targets.
There have not been any reports of injuries, and the home was unoccupied during the incident, according to Bowers.
Young said though no one was in direct line of the bullet, they could have been.
“Had the person (who’s desk the bullet landed) been standing instead of sitting, or the person who’s office window was struck had been there … we were pretty upset about that,” he said.
Young said he didn’t believe this was an attack on the school based on the fact the school employee heard the gunfire from the direction of the hill and the bullet went though a second-story window.
“Had he not been outside and heard it, I don’t know what we would have thought (was happening)?” Young said.
The incident remains under investigation by the Ross Twp. Police Department.
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