Why did standoff suspect surrender? Police were ‘driving him crazy’

Donald Tobias Gazaway told Butler County Sheriff’s detectives after a 30-hour standoff in which he allegedly held a 10-year-old hostage that he surrendered because he was tired of dealing with law enforcement.

“He said he was done and we were driving him crazy,” Detective Joe Nerlinger said in an interview after Gazaway’s preliminary hearing in Butler County Area II Court on Wednesday.

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Gazaway, 31, of Cincinnati, is being held in lieu of a $1,001,000 bond on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault and inducing panic for the incident that started late Friday night in an apartment in the 700 block of East Hamilton Place.

Nerlinger was the only witness during the brief hearing in Judge Kevin McDonough’s courtroom in the county Historic Court House. McDonough found sufficient evidence to bind the case over a county grand jury for consideration.

Deputies lined the coutro0m during the hearing, and Gazaway looked down most of the time with his hands folded.

Detectives say Gazaway, 31, was let into the apartment, and there was an altercation. The adults, including the boy’s mother, fled. But Gazaway took the boy hostage before surrendering Sunday morning.

Nerlinger said during the hearing that about 25 bullet casings were removed from the scene and Gazaway fired the majority of the shots from the apartment before moving to the garage with the boy.

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One bullet hit the armored SWAT vehicle that was occupied at the time, the detective said.

When taken into custody, three guns including a rifle were found with Gazaway, Nerlinger testified. Live rounds were also found.

The boy was not physically injured, Nerlinger said. He added that the boy cried during the standoff, “Let me go, let me go.”

He said while Gazaway and the boy were in the garage, officers “had eyes on him … (they) had snipers set up.”

But Gazaway kept the boy close, and officers saw him use the boy a shield. That prevented officers from making any movement toward the residence.

Nerlinger testified that the boy’s mother suffered a minor injury to the head.

“I believe it was from being pistol-whipped,” he said.

Detectives said Gazaway is not a family member but was let into the apartment as a friend of the family.

Gazaway was released from prison in July after serving four years for felonious assault in Hamilton County. He shot a gun into a crowd of 30 people at a party, according to court documents.

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