DEERFIELD TWP. — Warren County Deputy Katie Barnes had been at the apartment complex not long before.
The man knew she was there to arrest him.
Looking down from the top of the stairs Thursday night, he pointed his rifle at the deputy and opened fire.
Barnes moved backward and returned fire. She didn’t know it, but a bullet had already torn through her abdomen.
At this point, Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims said at a news conference on Friday, the man chased Barnes down the stairs and continued firing his rifle.
The shooting stopped within a minute, but the terror it caused lasted well past the time residents woke up on Friday.
“I said a few expletives after I got the phone call last night,” Sims said.
Barnes would be treated for her wound and released early Friday. She is expected to make a full recovery, the sheriff said.
Video courtesy of: WCPO.com | 9 On Your Side
Charged in the shooting incident is Mohammed Laghaoui, 19. He faces single counts of attempted aggravated murder and attempted murder and two counts of felonious assault, police said. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
The incident spurred fear and disruption in the neighborhood, where residents of the Orchard of Landen apartments were greeted at about 10 p.m. by gunfire, sirens and chaos.
The troubles had begun about two hours earlier, when Barnes was called to the apartment complex to investigate the report of a domestic dispute. Laghaoui’s brother and father, whose names have not been released, told police he had threatened to kill them, police said.
The deputy spoke to them for about 40 minutes. Ultimately, they decided not to press charges. Barnes left.
Less than an hour later, Laghaoui punched his dad in the face, police said. Barnes returned.
She didn’t park in the open because she didn’t want to be seen. But as the suspect came down the stairs, there was nowhere to hide.
This was the first time Barnes has fired her weapon in seven years with the sheriff’s department.
“We are confident she did everything correctly,” Sims said.
Barnes, a Mason High School graduate and soccer star in college, climbed over a wall and radioed for help. Another deputy, hearing gunfire, pulled into the apartment complex and helped Barnes to safety. Soon, she would be on her way to the hospital for treatment.
“We feel pretty confident that she is going to recover from that and be able to come back and do what she does,” Sims said.
A practical joke or the beginning of prolonged fear?
Jason Ratliff first thought it was fireworks – kids playing a practical joke.
He walked out of his apartment, just two doors away, and saw a man he’d never seen before.
“Hey man, how you doing?”
The man told him to leave him alone.
“Go away,” the man said.
The man turned and lifted his left arm. Ratliff could see the gun now.
The muzzle flashed, and Ratliff dove face first into the grass. He heard another bullet whiz by. He looked up and saw the man running.
Ratliff was not hurt.
The suspect went back upstairs to the apartment this started in. His family members shut the door in his face. Police say he fired into the door, striking his father in the hand. Sims said the wound might require surgery but was not life-threatening.
The father tried chasing his son, police said, but could not catch him.
Authorities couldn’t either. There was now a man armed with a rifle in the area.
Authorities stopped letting people into the apartments and asked residents in and around Deerfield Township to stay where they were. An alert pinged across thousands of phones in the area. A helicopter flew overhead while police set up a perimeter.
Emily Johnson, of Maineville, would be stranded in the parking lot of a Meijer grocery store for about seven hours.
“It’s crazy. This kind of thing doesn’t happen around here. You never think it’s going to happen to you,” the 17-year-old said. “I’m just glad we get to go home.”
Brian Freedman, a 28-year-old resident of the Orchard of Landen apartment complex, got home just before police shut down everything around it.
He had gone to see a movie and was welcomed at home by police carrying shotguns and wearing bulletproof vests.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many police officers in one place,” Freedman said.
Officials throughout the region, including some from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, aided in the search.
The manhunt lasted until 4:30 a.m. Friday, when authorities said the suspect tried to return to his father and brother. Police arrested him at the apartment without incident. Sheriff Sims called it an “uneventful” arrest.
Not much is known about Laghaoui.
Kevin Waldmann, a person who used to be close friends with him, said the Laghaoui he knew was never mean to anyone. Waldmann got to know Laghaoui through their love of skateboarding. He said Laghaoui let him borrow his skateboard for a week before he could get his own.
“That’s the crazy thing. He was one of the nicest kids I ever met,” Waldmann said.
Laghaoui attended Lakota East High School and was an honor-roll student his freshman year, according to newspaper archives. At some point during high school, Waldmann said he stopped seeing his friend and learned he was taking online classes to earn his diploma.
The last time Waldmann saw Laghaoui, about a year ago, the 19-year-old was working at Subway. He seemed all right.
“I don’t know the whole story,” said Waldmann. “I feel bad for him for whatever is going on for him, but I feel a lot worse for the officer who was shot.”
Laghaoui did not have a criminal record, the sheriff said. Investigators are still trying to pin down a motive.
The Enquirer has requested 911 calls and other documents related to the shooting, which could help shed more light on exactly what happened – and why it happened. As of Friday evening, none of those requests had been filled.
During the press conference on Friday, sheriff’s deputies lined the back wall of the conference room as Sims discussed the incident and his department’s response to it.
When asked about why Laghaoui’s family called the police but then decided not to press charges, Sims frowned and shook his head.
He said it’s a common problem when investigating domestic disputes.
“A lot of times it is that family dynamic,” he said.