Deadly Walmart shooting: Butler County grand jury returns indictments

Police investigate a fatal shooting at Walmart on Princeton Road in Fairfield Township Thursday, May 26, 2022. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Police investigate a fatal shooting at Walmart on Princeton Road in Fairfield Township Thursday, May 26, 2022. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

FAIRFIELD TWP. — A Butler County grand jury has indicted a man accused of shooting two people, killing a customer who tried to stop the man last week inside the Walmart on Princeton Road.

Anthony F. Brown, 32, was indicted Thursday for aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault and having weapons under disability. The case is assigned to Butler County Common Pleas Judge Dan Haughey, but an arraignment date has not yet been set.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the investigation is continuing, including how Brown got to a Middletown hotel after the shootings.

Brown, of Hensley Avenue in Hamilton, was taken into custody by a SWAT team at Fairfield Inn in Middletown several hours after the May 26 shooting. Police said he was wearing dark clothing and a health safety mask when he ran from the Walmart on Princeton Road after the shooting.

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According to court documents, Brown “threw (a) gun when approached and arrested by law enforcement that matches the description of the murder weapon used and video surveillance footage.”

Brown is being held on $5 million bond set during video arraignment last week in Butler County Area II Court.

Adam Black, 35, who had recently moved to the area from Columbus, was killed by a gunshot wound, and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. Black was a customer in the store.

Eric D. Ruff, 57, of Fairfield, was hit by gunfire and remains hospitalized, according to Fairfield Twp. Police Chief Chabali. Ruff is an employee of the store. He remains hospitalized but is recovering.

Brown is accused of shooting the two men while trying to steal steal cell phones, police said.

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At the time of the Walmart incident, Brown was free on a $200,000 bond and awaiting trial for an aggravated robbery with a gun committed on Oct. 23, 2021, according to court records.

The Hamilton Police report said in the Oct. 23 incident, Brown allegedly robbed an employee at gunpoint at Minnick’s Drive Thru on Dixie Highway, taking cash and lottery tickets.

A Walmart employee had opened the case containing the electronic items for Brown when a shopper intervened. Brown pulled away from the shopper and ran toward the front of the store, where another shopper tried to stop him, according to police.

Brown pulled out a handgun and shot and killed that person, later identified as Black, who attempted to help. Ruff tried to help and was struck by a bullet, according to Lanier.

The suspect fled, but officials had a description of the car and license number. The vehicle was stopped in the area of Hensley Avenue and 13th Street in Hamilton. Court records list Brown’s address in the 1300 block of Hensley.

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Anthony F. Brown BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Anthony F. Brown BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

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Anthony F. Brown BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Fairfield Capt. Doug Lanier said they found only Brown’s father in the car. He was questioned for hours by detectives and permitted to go home.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office was “inundated” with 911 calls, many from friends and family of people inside the store, said Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.

A group of people were hiding behind pallets in the back of the store, one caller said. One woman said she was hiding under a cashier’s desk and the pharmacist and employees in that department said they had locked themselves in the bathroom.

Suspect captured in Middletown

Detectives are trying to determine how Brown got to Middletown after leaving the scene of the crime, but as of Tuesday afternoon there are no charges against anyone for aiding him.

Middletown Sgt. Earl Nelson said the department was contacted late Thursday that Brown’s cell phone was pinging somewhere in Middletown and the hunt began. At one time there was a large police presence at the Walmart on Towne Boulevard.

When the investigation led detectives to Fairfield Inn on Roosevelt Parkway, about 15 miles from the Walmart on Princeton Road, multiple agencies searched the area and learned Brown may have been in a room at the hotel. During a search of the building, Brown jumped out of a first-floor window and attempted to run from the area, dropped a handgun and was taken into custody, according to Fairfield Twp. Police.

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