Bond for man accused in deadly Walmart shooting to be reconsidered

Alleged Walmart shooter Anthony F. Brown, 32, of Hamilton, was arraigned in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Friday, June 3, 2022, on several charges, including aggravated murder, murder, and aggravated robbery. He is accused of shooting and killing one man, and shooting and wounding another man while allegedly attempting to steal cell phones from the Fairfield Twp. Walmart on Princeton Road. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

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Alleged Walmart shooter Anthony F. Brown, 32, of Hamilton, was arraigned in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Friday, June 3, 2022, on several charges, including aggravated murder, murder, and aggravated robbery. He is accused of shooting and killing one man, and shooting and wounding another man while allegedly attempting to steal cell phones from the Fairfield Twp. Walmart on Princeton Road. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

A man accused of firing shots inside a Fairfield Twp. Walmart, which resulted in the death of a customer and injuries to one worker, will be back in court next week for a second bond hearing since his indictment.

Anthony F. Brown, 32, of Hamilton, had been held in jail on a $5 million bond set in lower court on the initial charges. That amount was reduced last Friday to $900,000 when Brown was arraigned by Butler County Common Pleas Magistrate Ronald James following his June 2 indictment for aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, and having weapons under disability.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser says the bond amount is not enough considering the issue of public safety were Brown able to post bond.

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Gmoser said the magistrate followed an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in which the high court determined that tying financial ability to a bond can be excessive and unconstitutional, but there can be a hearing to determine the safety concerns independent of financial ability.

So, Gmoser said he requested a bond hearing that has been scheduled for Tuesday before Judge Dan Haughey, who will preside over the case.

“According to the Ohio Constitution, you can consider that the evidence is great (against the accused) and public safety is an issue. But you have to have a separate hearing.”

Gmoser said defense attorney Clyde Bennett III has filed a “not guilty by reason of insanity,” plea on Brown’s behalf.

“There is no way in hell that you would ever allow someone who is claiming they’re insane to be out when you are considering public safety. You don’t let insane people who shoot people out on bond or set a small bond,” Gmoser said. “So in this particular case we are going to be asking for a very substantial bond.”

He added, “evidence is great (against Brown). There is no issue with identity and there is no issue with regard to conduct because it was captured on video.”

Bennett said the $5 million bond was excessive and unconstitutional. And the $900,000 set by the magistrate is correct.

Brown was out of jail on a $200,000 bond at the time of the shooting after being indicted in December for aggravated robbery at a Hamilton store. Last week, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer McElfresh increased Bown’s bond in that case another $100,000. So essentially, Brown would have to post a $1 million bond for both cases to be released.

Bennett said Brown’s family could not put up a $5 million bond and likewise cannot come up with the $900,000 plus an additional $100,000. So Brown will remain in jail, according to his attorney.

The insanity plea was filed based on his interaction with Brown, Bennett said.

“He could not assist me with my defense. He did not appear to be lucid. He did not appear mentally normal. Therefore his competency is an issue,” Bennett said. “When I sat with him after the Walmart incident he could not assist in his defense. If you can’t tell me what happened and you don’t know what happened and this is all a mystery and a fog to you, well hell, how do I know you knew what happened when it happened?”

A psychological evaluation has been ordered and Brown is scheduled to be back in court on July 26 for a competency hearing

Brown, while allegedly trying to steal cellphones, is accused of shooting and killing Adam Black, 35, a Hamilton man who recently moved to the area and who just learned he was going to be a father. Brown is also accused of shooting and wounding Eric Ruff, 57, of Fairfield, a Walmart employee who has been released from the hospital and is recovering.

A SWAT team took Brown into custody at a Fairfield Inn in Middletown several hours after the shooting. Gmoser said the investigation is continuing, including how Brown got to the Middletown hotel after the shootings.

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