On Monday night, the dangers that accompany that work came into public view when Dayton police detective Jorge Del Rio, a 30-year veteran, was shot twice in the face as he entered the basement of a one-story brick house shortly after dark as officers tried to serve a search warrant.
DelRio, 55, a father and grandfather, is on advanced life support, suffering from grave injuries, said Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl at a City Hall press conference Tuesday.
Officers on a DEA task force rolled up to the Ruskin Street house in a marked police car with its emergency lights flashing and wearing body armor. There was no immediate response at the home’s door, Biehl said.
Shortly after they went inside, DelRio came across Nathan Goddard Jr., hiding in the basement when shots were fired, Biehl said.
A total of about six shots were fired in the encounter — five shots by suspect Nathan Scott Goddard, Jr., and one by DelRio, a task force member and a 30-veteran of the Dayton Police Department, Biehl said.
Fellow officers called for an ambulance but then abandoned the wait and rushed him to Grandview Medical Center in a police car, Biehl said.
“He is on advanced life support. His injuries are grave,” Biehl said.
Officers packed the hallways and parking lot of the hospital to support DelRio, his wife, children and grandchildren, Biehl said.
Inside the house, officers found 50 kilograms of suspected marijuana packed into plastic totes, 13 kilograms of suspected fentanyl and cocaine stuffed in a duffel bag, $7,100 in cash spread across a coffee table and another $440,000 in cash in a plastic grocery bag, police said.
The federal ATF is now tracing the origin of two high-powered weapons found at the house, each with high-capacity 30-round magazines. One of the weapons was still in its packaging, tucked in a closet under the stairs.
DelRio was shot by one of the FN 5.7 millimeter pistols recovered at the scene, Biehl said.
Four adult men inside the home were arrested, as was a juvenile male who attempted to flee before being caught on the front lawn. The juvenile faces no charges, Biehl said.
Goddard, along with Courtney L. Allen, 34; Cahke W. Cortner Sr., 39; and Lionel L. Combs III, 40, were all arrested after the search warrant was executed, Biehl said.
With Goddard’s combined charges, which include drug and assault with a deadly weapon charges, he could face up to 30 years to life in prison. Allen, Cortner, and Combs all face drug and weapons charges that could be punished by up to 20 years to life in prison, officials said at the news conference.
Goddard is also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl, 500 grams or more of cocaine and marijuana.
“Mr. Goddard, of course, is looking at far more time because of his shooting,” said U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers.
All four men have previous criminal records involving drugs and violence. Goddard has the longest list of former violations including a 2002 felonious assault with a deadly weapon. He was also jailed for assault two separate times in 2011 and a third time in 2013, according to Miami County jails records.
His criminal record also includes obstructing official business, resisting arrest, selling and distributing marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and conspiracy, along with a list of traffic violtions.
Authorities will decide in the next two weeks whether prosecutions will move forward in federal or state courts, DeVillers said.
“Whatever happens here, we’re of one mind,” he said.
The execution of the warrant was the culmination of months of work by DEA agents and their local task force members.
Between mid-July and late-October , the DEA’s Dayton resident office conducted an investigation into a Dayton-based fentanyl operation, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
“As a result of that investigation, Goddard was named as an alleged source of supply of narcotics and a federal search warrant was subsequently authorized for 1454 Ruskin Road,” the office said in a statement Tuesday.
In 2016, DelRio referred to Dayton as “a destination city” with a large market for heroin in court documents.
In 2018, Homeland Security Investigations special agents who work under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement trained more than 300 law enforcement personnel in Ohio on the dark web, virtual currency and how financial transactions take place that facilitate the smuggling of fentanyl into the United States.
And two Homeland Security Investigations special agents have been stationed in Dayton since last year dedicating their resources to stopping the flow of illicit drugs into the area.
DelRio was deputized by the DEA to serve on drug task force operations locally, said Brian McNeal, DEA spokesman for the Detroit Division which includes the Dayton Regional Office.
The Dayton office has 18 local deputized officers from 11 jurisdictions, McNeal said, but could not say how many of those officers are with the Dayton Police Department.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin had a message for drug dealers: “This won’t stop us. We will come after you. We will put you in jail. If anything, we are more resilient now than ever before. This is a brotherhood, and we stand together.”
Serving a search warrant is the most dangerous situation a police officer can find themselves in, according to Patrick Oliver, director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University and a former police chief in Fairborn and Cleveland.
Oliver served on a DEA task force in Franklin County when he was an Ohio State trooper.
The type of operation the task force was engaged in Monday night is especially dangerous because officers are entering a home they don’t know the layout of and engaging with suspects who know they are heading for jail.
“They may feel they have nothing to lose and they can be very dangerous,” he said.
The fact that the officers had to enter the basement of the home put them into what Oliver called the “fatal funnel.” The first one or two officers down the stairs would be very vulnerable and the suspects would have the tactical advantage.
“There is no such thing as the routine serving of a search warrant,” Oliver said.
Staff Writer Katie Wedell contributed to this story.