YELLOW SPRINGS — The Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has determined that the gunshot that killed a Yellow Springs man in July was not self-inflicted.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Thursday that BCI has completed its investigation into the officer-involved shooting death of Paul “Paulie” E. Schenck.
“This tragedy has, obviously, had a profound impact on the Schenck family, but it has also impacted the Yellow Springs community. Because of that, I believe it is appropriate for me to share publicly what we found in the our investigation,” DeWine said during Thursday’s press conference.
BCI special agent investigators found that Schenck, 42, was shot and killed by a member of the Greene County Regional SWAT Team several hours after officers first arrived at his 280 North High Street home on July 30.
According to DeWine, BCI handed the results of their investigation over to Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller last week.
“At that time he (Haller) requested that my office handle the grand jury proceedings in addition to the investigation,” said DeWine. “It will now be up to members of the grand jury to decide if the evidence shows criminal misconduct or a justifiable shooting.”
The evening of the shooting, three officers from the Yellow Springs Police Department responded to a call at 10:50 p.m. to investigate a domestic dispute between “Paulie” and his 19-year-old son, Max Schenk. According to the incident report, the officers attempted to enter the residence “to keep Paulie from harming himself.” At 10:54 p.m., the officers reported to Greene County Central Dispatch that shots had been fired.
Approximately 63 law enforcement units responded to assist, including the Greene County SWAT Team, Regional Emergency Response Team (Vandalia, Huber Heights, Beavercreek, Fairborn), Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Xenia PD, Jamestown PD, Central State University PD, Cedarville PD, Xenia Post OSP, North Hampton PD and Fairborn PD.
Between 11 p.m. and 1:09 a.m. July 31 several shots were fired inside and outside of the residence. Officers entered the home around 4:30 a.m. and found Schenk dead.
Under the request of Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer and Yellow Springs Police Chief Anthony Pettiford, BCI took over the investigation of Schenk’s death. BCI investigators found that Schenk fired at least 191 shots out of the home, several of which hit neighboring houses and law enforcement vehicles.
“Officers told our investigators that they felt there was never an opportunity to truly negotiate with Paulie. Once he started to shoot, he kept shooting,” said DeWine.
Upon entering his residence, investigators reported finding a blood-clot kit and a gas mask with an extra canister by his side. Schenk was wearing a bullet-proof “Kevlar” vest and earplugs. Investigators also discovered one shotgun, two rifles, two assault rifles, three semi-automatic pistols, one black powder rifle, and 2,000-plus rounds of ammunition.
The BCI investigation also found that Schenck was suffering from a mental illness. According to the Montgomery County Coroner’s autopsy report, Paulie’s blood alcohol level at the time of his death was 0.18 gm percent, well in excess of the legal limit of .08 percent. The drug Zoloft was also found in his system.
“The reality is that every officer, at some point, will respond to a person experiencing a mental health crisis,” DeWine said. “I was very pleased to learn that each of the law enforcement officers who had contact with, or who attempted contact with Paulie the night of the shooting, were CIT-certified.”
CIT is a specialized, 40-hour training course for officers to identify the signs of mental illness and to learn appropriate techniques for de-escalating agitated individuals in crisis.
“This tragic shooting makes it vividly clear, however, that this is about so much more than just law enforcement training. Paulie’s death raises so many questions about mental health treatment and the mental health system in Ohio,” said DeWine. “Paulie was not getting the treatment he desperately needed. His parents tried, but Paulie was an adult, and there was little they could do to compel his treatment.
“We understand that the mental health system will never be able to recognize every case. But the hope would be that this tragedy can result in recognizing the needs. Until we do, there will be other cases,” DeWine continued.
The attorney general stated that earlier this year, Ohio State senators Dave Burke and Charleta B. Tavares introduced legislation, SB 43, that would clarify that a county probate court may order someone who is a threat to themselves or others to receive mandatory outpatient treatment. Currently the bill is in the Senate Civil Justice Committee.