Chief defends tactics in Ohio restaurant shooting

A police chief is defending how his officers handled a restaurant shooting that left a woman, her daughter and her estranged husband dead two weeks ago.

Police arrived at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn before the gunman killed his wife. Officers stayed outside for at least three minutes, as the gunman killed one daughter and critically wounded another.

The officers fatally shot Kevin Allen as he left the restaurant, still armed with the 12-gauge shotgun he used to shoot his family.

Police had gone to the restaurant April 12 after receiving a 911 call from Allen's wife. She told police her husband was circling the restaurant in his Jeep Liberty after she told him during a birthday dinner for their daughter, Kerri, that she was leaving him.

Chief Scott Mielke told The Plain Dealer ( the officers appropriately used the minutes to clear a disabled bystander and were about charge the restaurant when Allen appeared in the doorway, and refused to drop his weapon.

"The officer has to make the safest and most tactical approach," he said. "A dead officer on the scene does nobody any good."

Two officers spent less than two minutes moving into position to enter the building, he said.

"They weren't waiting. They were actually trying to get people out of the way, trying to take a tactical approach," Mielke said.

But manager Ron Borsch with the Southeast Area Law Enforcement Task Force training academy in Bedford, an expert in police tactics, said officers should have pursued the gunman as soon as they knew of gunshots.

"We have traditionally responded with too many, too late," Borsch said, adding that officers "make a mistake by doing things too slow and methodical, while the active killer is dynamic."

Borsch said forming tactical teams creates delays and has not been effective at stopping mass shootings.

Recordings of police radio transmissions indicate a witness told police that Allen was in the women's restroom with a gun, while a dispatcher was telling officers she heard shots during another 911 call from the restaurant.

Dispatch records show that five minutes elapsed — rather than three — from the first known gunshots until police fired on Allen. Mielke disputed those records, saying the information was not entered precisely.


Information from: The Plain Dealer,