Ross Twp. chief earns Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award

Acting Ross Twp. Police Chief Jack Tremain was awarded the Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award this week for chasing down the suspected shooter in a double homicide in Hamilton who fled toward Ross Twp. PROVIDED
Caption
Acting Ross Twp. Police Chief Jack Tremain was awarded the Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award this week for chasing down the suspected shooter in a double homicide in Hamilton who fled toward Ross Twp. PROVIDED

Jack Tremain, the Ross Twp. police captain who apprehended a fleeing homicide suspect last summer, has received the 2017 Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award.

The award was bestowed upon Tremain by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine during a ceremony Oct. 12 in Columbus.

The award honors those for their valor, lifetime achievement, group achievement, law enforcement service, community service, training, and civilian leadership, DeWine’s office said in a statement.

Tremain, then 57, apprehended then 24-year-old Zachary Harris, of Columbus, as he attempted to escape through the small township after allegedly gunning down two men in a drive-by shooting in Hamilton.

Explore MORE: OSU officer from Fairfield honored for actions during attack

Tremain, who has been acting police chief since May 2016, said his apprehension of Harris was because of his 35 years of police experience and the teamwork of multiple police agencies spanning two counties.

It also helped that Harris ran into a wooded area off Ohio 128, Tremain told this newspaper.

“There was a high likelihood of me catching him. Of all the years of hunting and fishing, I know the woods like the back of my hand,” he said.

Explore MORE: Death penalty still on table in retaliation, murder-for-hire case

Tremain and officer Larry Johns were both on duty Aug. 3, 2016, when Harris, Melinda Gibby and Tony Patete attempted their escape.

The two officers placed their vehicles at Old Ross Millville and Ohio 128 to block the maroon Chevy truck with the suspects inside.

Then Harris bailed out of the pickup truck and began running up a hill.

“Unfortunately for me it was the steepest hill in Ross,” Tremain previously told this newspaper. “So here I am, he turned out to be a 24-year-old man and I’m 57 and here I am in pursuit of this guy…”

RELATED: 1 charged in Hamilton drive-by shooting pleads to avoid death penalty

Tremain maintained a visual on Harris until halfway up the hill, where he lost sight of him. While he continued to scan the area, he found the white T-shirt Harris had been wearing on the ground.

He then noticed the suspect face-down in heavy underbrush trying to conceal himself, he said.

Tremain said he acted as if he couldn’t find him, walking toward him but not looking in his direction.

Once he was about 15 yards away, Tremain drew his weapon and ordered Harris to stay down and keep his hands visible.

Harris complied and was arrested without incident.

RELATED: Ross Twp. honors officers who caught Hamilton murder suspects

In a statement from the Ross Twp. Board of Trustees, the board members expressed their pride in their acting police chief.

“This prestigious award is a result of Capt. Tremain’s heroic efforts in apprehending a murder suspect on Aug. 3, 2016,” the statement read. “While his actions that day are an incredible example of his exemplary service to our department and the Ross Twp. community, it is a hallmark of our commitment to the residents we serve to provide a highly respected and professional police agency.”

Harris is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and is scheduled for trial Oct. 23.

Patete, 23, of Newark, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder. He will stand trial on Dec. 4.

Gibby, 36, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty in August 2017 to two counts of aggravated murder. The defense and prosecutors agreed to a sentence of 30 years to life for Gibby, but her sentencing isn’t scheduled until February. She avoided the possibility of a death sentence if convicted in a jury trial.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has said Gibby won’t be sentenced until after her cooperation in the trials of the others.

This article contains previous reporting by staff writers Lauren Pack and Denise G. Callahan.

About the Author