Patrolman James Kerstetter Elyria Police Department Ohio

Photograph: Patrolman James Kerstetter Patch image: Elyria Police Department, Ohio

Patrolman James Kerstetter
Elyria Police Department

End of Watch: Monday, March 15, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: Not available
Tour of Duty: 15 years
Badge Number: 177

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Monday, March 15, 2010
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Shot and killed

Patrolman James Kerstetter was shot and killed after responding to a call at a home on 18th Street. A mother in the home had called 911 to report that a neighbor had exposed himself to her child and kicked in a window in the home.
The suspect opened fire on officers after they located him at his home, wounding Patrolman Kerstetter. Other officers returned fire and killed the suspect. Officer Kerstetter was transported to EMH Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Patrolman Kerstetter had served with the Elyria Police Department for 15 years and had previously served with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Patrolman Kerstetter is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Agency Contact Information
Elyria Police Department
18 West Ave.
Elyria, OH 44035
Phone: (440) 322-1926

ELYRIA, Ohio — Mourners made their way to the Elyria police station today to honor an officer slain in the line of duty.

Patrolman James Kerstetter, 43, had been an Elyria officer for more than 15 years. He was a member of the department’s SWAT team and trained rookie officers. He also was the lead crash investigator.

Kerstetter was a Lorain County sheriff’s deputy before he joined the Elyria department on Sept. 6, 1994.

He also was a driving instructor at the Central Ohio Police Officers Training Academy in Reynoldsburg, where he trained other driving instructors.

He was fatally shot about 10 p.m. Monday when he walked through Ronald Palmer’s back door at 326 18th St.

Kerstetter told a dispatcher he’d been shot and needed backup. Then he collapsed. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Elyria Memorial Hospital.

Officers responding to the "officer down" call for backup rushed to the house and confronted 58-year-old Palmer outside. Officers fired. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not released the details of the encounter.

Neighbor George Price said he heard, "pow, pow, pow, then a bunch of shots, too many to count."

Kerstetter leaves behind his wife, Tammy, and three daughters, Misty, 17, Shelby, 14, and Bailey, 8. Donations for the family can be made at any First Merit Bank branch.

"It’s terrible," Chief Duane Whitely said. "He was a top-notch officer, a friend to everyone and he loved being a cop. He was always a calming force at a crime scene. He was not the kind of guy to sit quiety in a room. He stood out, seemed to always be laughing."
17elyria5.jpgMarvin Fong, The Plain DealerA steady stream of citizens build a memorial of flowers in front of the Elyria police station to honor fallen Patrolman James Kerstetter.

Lorain County residents are placing flowers in front of the police station, as officers weren’t allowing onlookers to approach Palmer’s house.

Christina McKay, leaving a spray of flowers at 10 a.m., said she and Kerstetter had been friends for the last five years. She’s a security guard at Lorain County Community College.

"He’s the kind of guy who always follows protocol, follows the rules," she said. "He would have given that guy every chance possible [to drop the gun], and that’s what did him in."

A large, bald and tattooed man carrying a bouquet didn’t stop at the memorial. Instead, he walked into the station and up to the woman seated at the front desk. He handed her the flowers and said softly, "this just ain’t right."

She rose, smiled and accepted a hug. The big man, choked with emotion, turned and walked out, shaking his head.

It’s been 68 years since an Elyria officer was killed while on duty. Howard Taft was killed in 1942.

ELYRIA, Ohio — A man accused of exposing himself to a neighbor’s child fatally shot a responding police officer and was killed by backup officers, authorities said Tuesday.

Elyria patrolman James Kerstetter, 43, was shot Monday night when he entered the home of gunman Ronald Palmer, 58, authorities said. Kerstetter managed to call for help on his radio before dying.

A woman had called 911 to report that a neighbor had exposed himself to her child and kicked in a window. By the time Kerstetter arrived, Palmer was back in his house.

Other officers who arrived after Kerstetter was shot fired at and killed Palmer, who had run outside. They then tried to treat Kerstetter, who was taken to EMH Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead, Police Chief Duane Whitely said.

Kerstetter was on the force for 15 years and was a sheriff’s deputy before that, Whitely said. He leaves a wife and three daughters.

"It’s terrible," Whitely said. "He was a top-notch officer, a friend to everyone, and he loved being a cop."

Palmer had been charged last year with unlawful restraint, aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct in a conflict involving his wife, court records show. Police said at the time that Palmer kept the woman in her home against her will and threatened to kill himself.

As a condition of bond, Palmer was required to stay 500 feet from his wife and ordered to get a psychological evaluation. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Palmer had ever been evaluated.

Palmer pleaded no contest to persistent disorderly conduct in September, the records show. He paid a fine and received a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail.

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