Elyria Ohio Officer James Kerstetter shot and killed
Elyria patrolman killed responding to 'neighborhood disturbance'; backup officers shoot suspect dead
March 16, 2010, 7:51AM
Elyria policeJames A. Kerstetter
With Michael Sangiacomo
ELYRIA, Ohio -- Neighbors knew Ronald Palmer sometimes "flipped out," but no one thought he'd gun down a police officer.
Veteran Patrolman James Kerstetter was fatally shot about 10 p.m. Monday when he walked through Palmer's back door at 326 18th St.
Kerstetter told a dispatcher he'd been shot and needed backup. Then he collapsed. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Elyria Memorial Hospital.
Officers responding to the "officer down" call for backup rushed to the house and confronted 31-year-old Palmer outside. Officers fired. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The details of the encounter have not yet been released.
Palmer's neighbor had called police and said Palmer, while naked, had walked over to her house, kicked in a window and walked back home.
Around the Web:
Story in Elyria Chronicle (with audio from scene)
Officer, suspect shot (WEWS Channel 5)
Elyria police officer shot dead Monday night (WTAM AM/1100
Kerstetter had been an Elyria cop for more than 15 years. He was a member of the department's special response team, and he trained rookie officers.
He also was the lead crash investigator. Kerstetter was a Lorain County sheriff's deputy before he joined the Elyria department on Sept. 6, 1994.
He leaves behind his wife, Tammy, and three daughters, Misty, 17, Shelby, 14, and Brittany, 8. Donations for the family can be made at any First Merit Bank branch.
"It's terrible," Chief Duane Whitely said. "He was a top-notch officer, a friend to everyone and he loved being a cop."
Elyria residents are placing flowers in front of the police station, as officers aren't allowing them to approach Palmer's house.
It's been 68 years since an Elyria officer was killed while on duty. Howard Taft was killed in 1942.