Jacklighting case ends in prison for 3 in Southeast

McArthur, Ohio — Three southern Ohio men have been sentenced to prison and lifetime loss of hunting privileges as result of a deer spotlighting enforcement incident during which one of the hunters was accused of shooting at law-enforcement officers.

Kevin Wright, 28, of Logan; and Shawn Barber, 29, and Timothy Ousley, 27, both of McArthur, were sentenced in Vinton County Common Pleas Court earlier this month after an investigation and prosecution by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Vinton County prosecutor’s office.

The State Highway Patrol; Vinton, Jackson, and Hocking sheriff’s offices; Wellston Police Department; and a federal-state fugitive apprehension task force assisted the DOW in its investigation.

Wright is in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution serving six years for attempted felonious assault, drug trafficking, and escape, as well as a consecutive three-year term from Hocking County for drug trafficking and drug possession. Wright was identified as the man who shot at law-enforcement officers during a nighttime incident last year in which he fled into woods to avoid arrest for spotlighting deer.

Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown declined to pursue an unindicted charge against Wright of receiving stolen property involving a four-wheeler vehicle.

Barber and Ousley are serving four years in Noble Correctional Institution for aggravated drug possession. Both also pleaded guilty to improper handling of a firearm, obstruction of official business, and jacklighting.

Judge Jeffrey Simmons’ ruling indicated Ousley could be eligible for judicial release after serving two years in prison, but he would be required to serve a mandatory three years of community control sanctions and pay a $2,000 fine.

Barber could be released from prison after serving one year, Simmons stated in court papers. Barber would be required to serve a mandatory three years of community control sanctions. He was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

In addition, Simmons ordered a 2001 Ford pickup truck, an assault-style AK-47 rifle, AK-47 ammunition, a Beretta handgun, and tools seized during the investigation forfeited to the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office.

All three men have been entered in the 44-member state Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact, which bans them from purchasing a hunting license in member states.

On Nov. 13, 2015, 16 DOW officers were conducting spotlighting surveillance in Vinton and Hocking counties by land and air when DOW pilot Joe Barber, using night vision goggles, observed a spotlight about 10:10 p.m. coming from a pickup truck’s driver and passenger windows into woods on Creola Cemetery Roads in Vinton County, according to a DOW investigative report.

Vinton County Wildlife Officer Jared Abele said he followed the truck, moving slowly with three occupants, turned on his blue overhead lights and made a traffic stop. Two of the occupants fled into woods, one stumbling as he fumbled with a long gun, Abele wrote. Able ordered the driver out of the truck and onto the ground and Abele took a defensive position for a possible ambush situation from the men who had fled into woods, one with a rifle.

As the driver, identified as Barber, was handcuffed and arrested for jacklighting by wildlife officer Matt Van Cleve, pilot Barber was observing light flashing in woods south of where the truck was stopped, and directed Scioto County Wildlife Officer Hollie Fluharty to stop her vehicle where Barber was seeing the light.

About 11 p.m., Fluharty and five other officers began a search for the two hunters in the woods when Fluharty said she located one of the pair about 25 feet in front of her ridge position. Fluharty announced she was a game warden and repeatedly ordered the man to stop and “get on the ground,” but he got up and fled.

Fluharty and other officers then chased the man in heavy underbrush but stopped when they heard two gunshots fired a second apart near their positions by the man later identified as Wright. Wildlife investigator Travis Abele said the shots were fired from what he believed to be a handgun. There were no shots fired by wildlife officers, according to the DOW report.

Vinton County deputy sheriffs arrived to help in the search but all law enforcement was ordered out of the woods because thick vegetation reduced visibility to less than 20 yards. The search ended about 2:30 a.m.

The State Highway Patrol was called to assist the nighttime search for the fleeing men by using its plane equipped with Forward-Looking Infra-Red technology that focuses on body heat, but was unable to locate Wright or Ousley. Wright’s identity was learned through a cell phone he had dropped in the road while fleeing officers. Ousley was identified through questioning of Barber, who confirmed Wright as his other passenger.

A backpack later identified as belonging to Wright fell from the truck into the road along with a Beretta handgun. An inspection of the backpack found a container of what tests revealed was approximately 30 grams of methamphetamine. Other items included drug paraphernalia, headlamps, and AK-47 ammunition.

Ousley was located in adjacent Jackson County and arrested Nov. 16 after a Vinton County resident notified the Ohio DNR he had given a ride to a man who came out woods near his residence and “was shivering and looked in bad shape,” according to an investigative report.

Wright was arrested Nov. 17 with the assistance of the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team, comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement officers.

Wright was located in a camper in Ross County, near the Hocking County line, but fled as officers approached, the Jackson County Telegram reported. Wright was arrested after a brief chase. Officers recovered a firearm and ammunition believed used in the shooting incident in Vinton County, the newspaper reported.

Categories: Hunting News, Whitetail Deer

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