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Man killed, deputy hurt in officer-involved shooting in Richland County

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Posted at 6:40 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 18:36:14-05

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — One man was killed and a deputy was injured in an officer-involved shooting in Washington Township late Thursday night, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Office. The shooting happened around 11:16 p.m. in the 1100 block of Lexwood Road, just outside the city of Mansfield.

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According to the sheriff's office, two deputies responded to the scene for a welfare check at the request of the man’s concerned family members. According to the 911 call, family members were concerned about Craig Wright because he had made statements about "not being able to go on anymore" following an argument with his estranged wife.

According to Chief Deputy Joe Masi, the two deputies were not able to see Wright upon arrival and he did not come to the door. A few moments later, Wright’s wife pulled into the driveway and informed them that Wright was, in fact, inside the home.

“[The two deputies] went inside to go check on him. Basically, it escalated very quickly from there but we’re not sure why,” Chief Deputy Masi said. “Before we knew it, one deputy had been shot. [The other deputy] returned fire.”

According to radio traffic released by the sheriff’s office, one of the deputies can be heard grimacing and writhing in pain after Wright reportedly shot him. Approximately three minutes later, another deputy relayed that additional shots were fired and the suspect was in handcuffs.

The injured deputy suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound but remains in the hospital. Wright died at the hospital, authorities said. Investigators are working to determine what happened leading up to the first deputy being shot.

“These are the difficult calls when you are trying to de-escalate somebody,” Chief Deputy Masi said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work and it quickly escalates. That’s what happened this time. Unfortunately, it ended in the loss of a life.”

Masi said Wright does not have a prior history with the sheriff’s office nor is there any documented mental illness. However, a family member said in the 911 call that issues in his personal life had given him suicidal thoughts.

“We know there was some other stuff going on that day in his life and I’m sure that contributed to his frame of mind,” Chief Deputy Masi said.

Family members gathered outside Wright’s home declined to speak with News 5.

Masi said the other deputy was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The deputy that was initially shot was able to render first aid on himself and scamper to safety.

“He was able to pretty much care for himself until the situation was under control,” Chief Deputy Masi said.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to the scene and is handling the investigation, at the request of the sheriff’s office. Both of the deputies have been placed on administrative leave per department policy, the sheriff’s office said.

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