UPDATE: Suspect And Victim Identified In I-71 Shooting

  • 10/2/2016 4:28:21 PM
  • WMFD Staff
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - The Ohio State Highway Patrol was forced to shut down traffic in both directions on I-71 in Richland County Sunday. This comes after a man was shot at a rest stop in Delaware County shortly after 11 a.m.

A press release stated that the suspect, 25-year-old Shawn A. Johnson of Westerville, fired several shots at a vehicle, striking the victim. Both Johnson and the victim were standing outside near the victim's vehicle at the time of the shooting.

According to the College of Wooster, the victim has been identified as Alexander S. Melchert. Melchert is a first-year college student from Wisconson and is currently in critical condition at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. 

Interstate 71 was then closed at U.S. 30 to mile marker 169 following a high-speed chase which culminated in the suspect colliding with a semi. 

The semi driver, Donny Elmore, saw the patrol putting down road spikes a few miles back but thought nothing of it until he saw blue lights in his rearview mirror. Johnson hit Elmore as he passed him on the shoulder, causing the car to spin into the median. 

The pursuit ended after Johnson's vehicle drove over road spikes and crashed into a guardrail on Interstate 71 northbound in Richland County.  

A standoff involving law enforcement and Johnson then followed. 

WMFD's crew heard loud booms shortly after a SWAT team had appeared on the scene before the standoff was resolved. A robot was also witnessed being used. Johnson was discovered to be deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.  

Reportedly, Johnson had shot the man six times at the northbound I-71 rest stop as the man was walking back to his car from the restrooms. 

On October 1st, a warrant was issued for Johnson on charges of domestic violence and assault, according to Franklin County Municipal Court records.  According to records, Johnson assaulted and threatened his mother. 

The College of Wooster informed the student body Sunday with a statement that said:

Wooster student shot at I-71 rest stop near Columbus

"The College has learned that one of our students, Alexander S. Melchert, a first-year from Wisconsin, was shot at a rest stop on northbound I-71 in Delaware County, Ohio around 11 a.m. this morning. He was transported to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, he is in critical condition.

Police pursued the suspect, a standoff ensued, and at approximately 3 p.m., the Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed to Channel 10 in Columbus that the suspect had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Dean of Students Scott Brown is in Columbus. Alexander’s parents are on their way to Ohio. College staff have reached out to his roommate, faculty, and others who live on his hall, and counselors and faith professionals are on hand for support.

We will share more information here as it becomes available."

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First-year student remains in critical condition

"Alex Melchert, a first-year Wooster student who was shot yesterday at a rest stop on northbound I-71 near Columbus, about 60 miles from here, remains in critical condition. His parents and siblings have all arrived in Columbus and are with him at the hospital.

Please continue to hold Alex, his family, and friends in your prayers. We will provide more information as it becomes available."

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