Brandon Schmitt, killed in Struthers standoff, had criminal record


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By JOE GORMAN

jgorman@vindy.com

STRUTHERS

Struthers Standoff ends in Death

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Police said 47-year-old Brandon Schmitt, who was shot and killed by a SWAT team member early Wednesday after a standoff lasting for more than 12 hours, was no stranger to them.

Police said a man shot and killed by a SWAT team member early Wednesday after a standoff lasting more than 12 hours was not a stranger to police.

Brandon Schmitt, 47, died in the Fifth Street home where police were called about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for a domestic dispute with a 16-year-old and 6-year-old.

The children got out, but when officers heard a gunshot, they retreated and called for the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team after Schmitt failed to come out of the home.

When FBI agents and SWAT members arrived early Wednesday, they taped off the street from East Midlothian Boulevard to Elm Street.

Earlier, Struthers police allowed no one in or out, which forced George Kinnard Sr. to miss a day of work Wednesday because he could not get back to his home.

“I had to take a personal day because I couldn’t get in my house,” Kinnard said from his van at a parking lot at Fifth and Elm streets. “I never miss work.”

Leatha Szczepanski, who lives on adjoining Sixth Street, said she could hear police throughout the night on megaphones trying to coax Schmitt out of the home. She said she heard several gunshots about 3 a.m. but nothing after that.

Court records show Schmitt was sentenced to a year in prison in 2011 after pleading guilty in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to a robbery charge for robbing a Boardman bank, but he was granted early release six months later.

Struthers Municipal Court records show arrests for disorderly conduct in July 2017 and domestic violence in September 2017. In both cases he was granted probation.

Chief Tim Roddy said police were called to the home by the mother of the children because Schmitt tried to sexually assault one of them. Roddy said that child sustained injuries, including a possible concussion, after being beaten with a flashlight.

His officers went in and heard the gunshot, then retreated and called for the crisis response team. The team in turn called an FBI SWAT team for help as the standoff stretched into the early morning hours. That SWAT team usually backs up the crisis response team if needed, Roddy said.

Eric Smith, FBI special agent in charge of the Cleveland Office, said the FBI team was in place between 5:30 and 6 a.m. Roddy said throughout the night and before the FBI arrived, negotiators worked tirelessly to get Schmitt to come out of the house peacefully.

“We had over 12 hours of active negotiations,” Roddy said.

Smith said that when SWAT team members saw Schmitt in a window with a rifle, they opened fire, killing him.

Neither Roddy nor Smith would say who fired the fatal shot or what agency they were with, but Smith said an FBI shooting review team was due in the afternoon Wednesday and would reconstruct the entire incident going back to the first 911 call.

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