Jury convicts man on multiple charges for Liberty Twp. standoff

Donald Gazaway held a 10-year-old boy hostage for 30-hours last winter at a Liberty Twp apartment complex, but it took a jury just two hours to convict him Thursday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Gazaway, 32, was found guilty of kidnapping, felonious assault, inducing panic, aggravated burglary, and having weapons under disability after a four-day trial in Judge Charles Pater’s courtroom. He was found not guilty of aggravated robbery.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

MORE: Boy testifies man who held him hostage had backpack full of guns

A plethora of law enforcement from SWAT teams in Hamilton and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office were on the scene for more than a day at the Springs at Liberty apartment complex after Gazaway had a confrontation with the boy’s mother, demanding money and eventually keeping the boy with him as he fired weapons and moved around the residence, according to prosecutors.

Many of the officers testified during the trial, recounting efforts to end the standoff and free the boy.

The young victim also testified as the prosecution’s first witness on Monday.

Officers maintained contact with Gazaway with a “throw phone” that was equipped with multiple cameras and a microphone.

Hours into the incident, Gazaway moved with the boy to the garage, where he sat in a Camaro.

Hamilton Detective Shawn Fryman, a member of the department’s SWAT, took the stand Wednesday describing the evolving plans by officers to end the standoff, which included shooting Gazaway.

Fryman said he arrived at about 6 p.m. on Jan. 13. He was first assigned to the direct assault team, then to the “water delivery team.”

“He (Gazaway) requested water and we put a team together to deliver water (to the garage),” said Fryman, who was the third officer in a line of five when they entered.

“My job was, if there was an opportunity, was to shoot the defendant,” Fryman told the jury.

But that opportunity never arrived.

The detective said Gazaway and the boy were in the vehicle and Gazaway was telling the boy the officers were there to shoot him.

Fryman said Gazaway had the boy in his lap while sitting in the back seat.

“He (Gazaway) was telling him, ‘they are going to shoot you, they are going to shoot you,’” Fryman said. He added the child was panicking and trying to get even closer to the defendant.

Fryman said he was not able shoot Gazaway “because the boy was in his lap and he kept the boy between me and him.”

Defense attorney Lawrence Hawkins III told the jury in opening statements that his client did not knowingly shoot at police and “did not shoot or wound anybody.”

Hawkins also said Gazaway was let into the residence.

“There was no evidence he kicked in the door or anything like that,” Hawkins said.

On Monday, the boy, now 11, testified about the ordeal.

The boy, now 11, said from the witness stand he, his mother and his dog were home that night. He had earbuds in, but he testified that he heard a conversation between his mother and Gazaway.

“I heard him yelling, ‘Give me $10,000,’” the boy said.

The boy said Gazaway had a gun while yelling at his mother. When his mother ran out, Gazaway took him first to his closet, then to his mother’s closet.

“I was afraid he was going to shoot me,” said the boy, who added that Gazaway shot several guns he had in a backpack, including an AK-47, at police while inside the apartment.

About the Author