MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio — Police here said today they still do not know why James Gilkerson jumped out his car and began firing at Middlefield police officers who had pulled him over after Gilkerson had run a stop sign in the village.
They did say Gilkerson fired 37 rounds from an AK-47 rifle on March 10, and that the two officers fired back with 54 rounds of their own, killing the Mentor-on-the Lake man.
Police showed the dash cam video of the shootout during a news conference. They also distributed a statement from the Lake County prosecutor saying the shooting by police was justified and the matter would not be taken to a grand jury.
“He got of the vehicle, intending to kill my officers. We don’t know why he did it,” said Police Chief Arnold Stanko.
Stanko said police found eight, 40-round magazines for the AK-47 in Gilkerson’s car along with a number of books and magazines about militias and terrorism.
The names of some of the literature were “Backyard Rocketry: Converting Model Rockets Into Explosive Missiles,” “Advanced Close-range Gun Fighting,” “Homemade Detonators: How To Make Them.” Another described how to get rid of a dead body.
“He was a scumbag, and a terrorist, and he’s dead,” Stanko said.
Gilkerson fired on the officers on Ohio 608, near Pierce Street.
Stanko said one of his officers, Erin Thomas, got out of the patrol car after Gilkerson was pulled over, walked around the car, and got to about the driver’s side door of the cruiser when Gilkerson bolted from his car and began shooting.
Stanko said Thomas fired back, as did her partner Brandon Savage. Stanko said Savage returned fire through the windshield of the cruiser.
Stanko said Gilkerson was shot several times, but kept firing. During the gunfight, Gilkerson shouted, “Kill me.”
Thomas, a former Woodmere officer, still is not back to work. She lost a finger in the encounter. Savage had minor injuries to his left thigh. He is back at work, the chief said.
The chief said police could find little in the way of ammunition and books in the home Gilkerson shared with his mother. He said he did not know if Gilkerson kept his weapon, ammunition and the books in his car all the time or if he had piled it all in side that day.