Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Two dead in conservation club shooting

Upper Sandusky, Ohio — A Tiffin, Ohio man accused by a prosecutor of the “cold-blooded execution” Nov. 1 of two other members of the Carey Conservation Club has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and kidnap charges.

Judge Kathleen A. Aubry entered not-guilty pleas on behalf of Richard L. Clark, 65,  Nov. 12 to allow Clark to confer later with his court-appointed attorney, Robert Grzybowski of Lima, Ohio, who did not attend an arraignment in Wyandot County Common Pleas Court.

Aubry set Clark’s cash bond at $2 million. Clark is in custody in the Crawford County Jail in Bucyrus.

A Wyandot County grand jury indicted Clark Nov. 8 of the kidnapping and aggravated murder in the shooting death of Cynthia L. Hawkinberry, 49, of rural Tiffin, and the aggravated murder of Roger E. Fredritz, 49, of rural Carey, Ohio.

In addition, Clark was indicted of the felonious assault of Melissa Layne, injured by an apparent ricochet bullet fired by Clark, according to Sheriff Michael R. Hetzel. All the charges specify Clark possessed a firearm at the time of the fatal shootings.

Clark, Hawkinberry, and Fredritz were members of the conservation club, club President Johnny Brewer said.

The conservation club is a family-friendly sportsman's association formed in 1939 and hosts activities including fishing, trap shooting, camping, and hunter-safety courses conducted by the DNR. The club has a membership of about 1,200, according to the club’s Internet website.

Clark was arrested shortly after the shootings were first reported inside the group’s canteen by multiple 911 calls to the Wyandot County Sheriff's Office starting at 9:21 p.m.

“We’ve got a man with a gun in the Carey Conservation Club, and he’s firing shots,” a frantic caller told a 911 dispatcher.

“He told everybody to get out, and he shot somebody,” the caller told the 911 dispatcher from a nearby trailer where the caller and other club members fled to hide from the gunman.

There were about 15 people in the canteen when the shootings occurred, according the sheriff's office.

Another emergency responder called 911 requesting more help and said he entered the club to assist shooting victims only to be ordered out of the building at gunpoint by the gunman.

Carey Police Officer Sutton Flick, among the first officers to arrive at the shooting scene, confronted Clark outside the clubhouse, where Clark dropped his handgun and Sutton took Clark in custody without additional shots fired, according to Carey Police Chief Daniel Walter and the sheriff’s office.

“He showed a lot of maturity and good judgment,” Walter said of Flick’s quick response. “He did an excellent job for a young officer.”

Flick joined the department as a full-time officer in February.

Walters said his department’s 12 officers undergo periodic training and scenarios with other county law enforcement agencies to help prepare for an active-shooter incident in such places as schools or in the workplace.

Wyandot County Prosecutor Jonathan K. Miller described the fatal shootings as a “calculated, cold-blooded execution of two human beings” during a court appearance for Clark Nov. 4 in Upper Sandusky Municipal Court.

Miller told acting Municipal Judge James Gucker there were multiple witnesses to the shootings, and the shootings were captured by the conservation club’s security-surveillance camera system.
Sheriff Hetzel said Clark and Hawkinberry had lived together for a time “but had parted company.”

On Clark’s and Hawkinberry’s online social media Facebook pages, each indicated they were engaged to each other in May, 2012.

Both Hawkinberry and Fredritz were shot multiple times, Hetzel said. Both were pronounced dead at the club by Wyandot County Coroner Joseph Sberna.

Sberna, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the slayings, citing an ongoing investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Hawkinberry joined the conservation club because “she loved nature and being outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, and her favorite was sitting around a campfire, regardless of the weather,” according to her obituary published in the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune newspaper.

Fredritz, who lived near the conservation club, was a longtime club member, farmer, and friend of Hawkinberry.

“He was an outstanding member,” club president Brewer said of Fredritz. Fredritz would provide such volunteer services as filling potholes in the parking lot to plowing snow at the club, Brewer said.

Brewer said his daughter called him “Uncle Roger.”

Fredritz was an avid collector of antique farm machinery, including Ford tractors. One of his nature interests was planting rows of sunflowers in his field to feed birds and other wildlife, friends said.

After a memorial Mass on Nov. 5 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, a large gathering of Fredritz family members and friends gathered at the Carey Veterans of Foreign Wars lodge to celebrate Fredritz’s life and community service. Also on display were several of his antique farm tractors.

Plans call for a Carey Future Farmers of America scholarship be established in Fredritz’s name.

Neighbor Larry Vaughn lowered his American flag to half staff after hearing news of the deaths of Fredritz, his longtime friend, and Hawkinberry.

“He was a good neighbor who would do anything for you,” Vaughn said of Fredritz. “I’m going to miss him.”

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