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Deputy's murderer had been involved in previous police shootout (slideshow)

Clark County Sheriff Deputies salute the hearse carrying fallen Deputy Suzanne Hopper.
Clark County Sheriff Deputies salute the hearse carrying fallen Deputy Suzanne Hopper.Photo/Bill Lackey

More details are emerging about the murder of Clark County Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper yet the story surrounding her death seems only more surreal.

A confrontation at Enon Beach trailer park on New Year's Day that ended in the shooting death of Deputy Hopper may have begun over animal feces, neighbors reported Monday.

Michael Ferryman, 57, killed Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Suzanne Waughtel Hopper while she was investigating a complaint at a trailer park in Enon on Saturday. He died later in a shootout with police, but only after injuring a second officer. Shocking video captured the shootout.

The original complaint came from one of Ferryman’s neighbors who reported that someone had fired a shot into their trailer, residents said Monday.

Ferryman allegedly fired the shot because he believed the neighbor’s dog had defecated in his yard, a neighbor said. When Hopper arrived and was photographing evidence at the scene, Ferryman opened his trailer door just feet away from the deputy and fired a shotgun, killing her instantly.

This Has Happened Before

Amazingly, Saturday’s shootout was strikingly similar to an incident Ferryman had with local deputies and police nine years ago.

According to information in the Morgan County Herald, Ferryman also fired at deputies in Morgan County in 2001, although no one was hurt in that incident.

Information from the Morgan County Herald showed that in 2001, Ferryman was at a campground with his girlfriend, Maria Holsinger-Blessing. Deputies responded to a complaint that Ferryman had fired a weapon at another camper, and when they arrived, Ferryman fired on the deputies, forcing them to back away.

Incredibly, Ferryman was not killed during this shootout and was eventually taken into custody after a 26-hour standoff. However, he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to information in the Columbus Dispatch.

His luck with the legal system didn't end there, however. The court that found Ferryman incompetant to stand trial ordered that he be committed to the Timothy B. Moritz Forensic Unit, a maximum security psychiatric facility on the campus of the state’s Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare campus in Columbus, for competency restoration to stand trial.

The intent of the court was for Ferryman to eventually stand trial for the 2001 shooting, after he was restored to competancy. However, upon his restoration the legal system again broke Ferryman's way as he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2003.

According to newspaper reports, he was re-admitted to Moritz on May 1, 2003, and was transferred to Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare in Cambridge, a facility that’s now closed but previously served Morgan County.

He was conditionally released from that facility in 2005 after the Morgan County courts approved a discharge plan with Mental Health Services of Clark County and a forensic monitor overseeing his progress, according to state records. He was released to Clark County because it was determined that Ferryman had a support system here, said Trudy Sharp, Ohio Department of Mental Health communications director.

Continue to check back for breaking details on the horrifying murder of Deputy Suzanne Hopper.

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