Detectives from the Scioto County Sheriff's Office arrested a Friendship man on Sunday in connection with the shooting death of a 17-year-old boy on Upper Twin Creek Road.
Additionally, local residents question the ambulance response time - wondering if that might have made a difference in saving the boy's life.
Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini said 17-year-old Nathaniel Kennedy and 18-year-old Jared Fyffe had been in Sinking Springs, early on Sunday, running their hunting dog.
They reportedly were told of a hunting lodge on Upper Twin Creek where they could do some target practice. The boys drove to the lodge and found the club closed.
Then they noticed a bale of straw behind the building and decided to take it down the road to do some shooting in an old field.
According to reports, a nearby neighbor, Eric Whisman, 35, saw the boys taking the bale of straw and fired a warning shot with his gun, which frightened the boys away. A little farther down the road, Kennedy said he thought he had been shot in the back. He pulled his vehicle over and got out to lie down in a field while Fyffe ran to a nearby home to call 911.
The sheriff's office reportedly received that call at 4:47 p.m. on Sunday, and deputies responded to the scene to find Kennedy shot and lying in the roadway. The boy was transported to St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., where he later was pronounced dead.
After an investigation, detectives arrested Whisman and charged him with one count of murder for Kennedy's death, and one count of attempted murder because Fyffe was in the vehicle with Kennedy at the time of the shooting. These charges are felonies in the first and second degrees, respectively.
Donini said Fyffe was not shot during the incident.
“Whisman apparently went down to the scene and then went back to his house, and he actually called us, too,” he said. “He told us he had done this, and said it was an accident. We informed him we had people on the way, and he told us the gun was put up.”
Donini said Whisman's call came nearly 20 minutes after the original call was received. He said Whisman called the sheriff's office again after nearly an hour asking where they were, and why they hadn't shown up.
“We were down at the scene, waiting for the helicopter,” he said.
Donini also said the county 911 office received the call at 4:47 p.m. then dispatched Life Ambulance immediately, even before dispatching a deputy at 4:48 p.m. According to the deputy's report, he arrived on the scene at 5:10 p.m., and Life Ambulance arrived at 5:28 p.m. They were followed by MedFlight at 5:33 p.m., but Donini said he was unsure who called for MedFlight, or when.
A resident of the area, Ronnie Richards, said he sat with Kennedy after the shooting, and claims to have waited nearly 40 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
“The only thing I can possibly figure is that they went up (Ohio) 125,” Richards said. “I can't figure out why the response time was what it was.”
Richards said the Nile Township Squad was out of service at the time of the shooting, so 911 was left to call Life Ambulance to respond from inside the city.
He also said “time was moving awfully slow,” but said he arrived on the scene 20 minutes after the shooting. He said he was joined by a sheriff's deputy nearly 15 minutes later - coming all the way from Rarden, Richards said - and then the ambulance arrived 10 minutes after the deputy.
“He got from Rarden here faster than they got from town, and if you've got the sirens running, you should be at my house in no more than 15 minutes. There's no way I can tell you this, but I do believe it would have made a difference,” he said.
Donini also pointed out the report filed by his deputy was written several hours after the fact, and may not be precise in the arrival times listed. The official time, he said, would have been recorded by Life Ambulance. A spokesperson for the ambulance company was unavailable for comment.
Afterwards, officers approached Whisman's house and placed him under arrest without incident. Donini said Whisman told officers where the gun was, and then spoke with them in the presence of his attorney.
Whisman was being held in Scioto County Jail with no bond on Sunday. He was seen in Judge Richard Schisler's courtroom in Portsmouth Municipal Court on Monday, and he was held over for a preliminary hearing Friday. He was being held on $20,000 bond for the charge of murder and $15,000 bond for the charge of attempted murder.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101